A diner has opened in Sheffield where the staff are rude to you, and you’re encouraged to be rude back – and it won’t be long before Manchester gets its own taste of the Karen’s Diner experience.
The immersive pop-up dining experience has been exported from sunny Australia to the temperamental climes of the northwest.
It’s just landed in Sheffield ahead of a June opening in Prestwich – so, obviously, we had to take a trip over to see what it’s all about.
Full disclosure, if you’re mild-mannered and thinking of paying them a visit, brace yourself. Even writing this down is starting to give me the shakes again. I already knew it was going to be a bit full-on, but this was an ORDEAL – like the hospitality equivalent of being hazed.
It was also completely hilarious. You have to laugh, really, or you’d probably cry.
‘Welcomed’ with hard, glaring stares, then shouted at for being late (which, to be fair, we were), we were led on a merry dance around the diner – circling tables four or five times – before the staff eventually showed us to our seats.
The diner itself looks like it’s been lifted straight from 1950s America, complete with checkered black and white tiles, red and white leather booths, and vinyl records pinned to the walls.
There’s a predictably diner-esque menu of burgers and fries topped with American cheese that never quite seems to melt.
Throughout the hour we spent at Karen’s Diner – one of the longest hours of our lives – we were routinely humiliated: forced to spin a ‘wheel of shame’, do a fashion catwalk through the diner, drink ‘toilet shots’ or swirling Kahlua and Baileys, and wear customised paper hats that read ‘Vegan in Denial!’ and ‘Messy B*tch’ (they got that last one spot on for me, it has to be said).
We’re handed a colouring-in sheet and a handful of broken crayons, before our artwork is snatched away and torn to shreds before our eyes. The more talented creations – including one featuring a doodled penis – are pinned proudly to the walls.
I ask for a napkin. It’s brought to the table, a corner torn off, and presented with a perfect ‘f*ck you’ smile.
A minute later, I ask for sauce. This is intentional – I want to be annoying, I want to see what they’ll do. My efforts are rewarded. The sauce arrives, along with napkins. I can’t believe my luck. Sauce and napkins for this messy b*tch? Perfect.
Not so much. The sauce is unceremoniously dumped, upside down, on the aforementioned napkin, then he promptly leaves. From there, it’s up to me to do what I want with it. Like any self-respecting sauce lover, I eat it off the napkin.
As an ex-hospitality worker of some ten years or so, I myself have spent many years sullenly mouthing ‘f*ck off’ or some other insult under my breath at an annoying customer who’s taken things too far. It’s just a part of the job.
What I would’ve done in those days to work somewhere where I was not only able to shout it at their face, but be paid for the pleasure. In that regard, Karen’s Diner is a dream.
Retail workers get it, hospitality workers get it. Sometimes the customer just isn’t right – and those customers, the really annoying ones, known in the industry as ‘Karens’, could do with a big telling-off.
Whether the people manning the tables at Karen’s Diner are actors, or incredibly disgruntled hospitality staff, we’re never too sure – either way, they never break character.
Every polite request of ours is greeted with a middle finger or an exaggerated eye roll, red baskets of burgers are dumped on the table with such force that all the fillings tumble out, and we’re so afraid to leave our seats that we have to wait for their backs to be turned to make a dash to the loo.
This is the place to go and get it – and when you’ve had enough, you’ll be bid farewell with a hearty ‘f*ck off’.
A restaurant dedicated to garlic bread has opened in Manchester city centre
A new restaurant dedicated to garlic bread has opened in Manchester, and it’s the stuff that dreams are made of.
A new arrival located in Shudehill, the eatery comes from the same team behind Swan Street pizzeria Ciaooo.
The team, famed for their fluffed-up sourdough crusts and burrata-topped pies, has spent the past five years wowing Manchester diners with its pizza, not to mention the likes of fun starters like deep-fried lasagne and carbonara.
Now they’re getting ready to do it all over again with loaded garlic bread – this time operating out of a unit in Shudehill, formerly home to Manchester’s X-rated d*ck waffle cafe Mr. D*cks.
Open from 12-6pm daily with a focus on the lunch rush, at the team’s new loaded garlic bread shop classic options include ‘plain’ with garlic butter and ‘cheese’ with butter, mozzarella and parmesan, priced between £5 and £5.50.
From here, it gets even more exciting with the likes of ‘Cacio E Pepe’, ‘Pesto’, ‘Marinara’ and ‘Truffle’ loaded garlic bread all on offer.
We’re talking Ciaooo’s signature fluffy base, with a choice of added tomato, garlic, oregano, truffle, burrata, housemade pesto, parmesan, black pepper and more, with the most expensive loaded garlic bread priced at £6.50.
Elsewhere, you’ll find 10″ pizzettes – smaller versions of Ciaooo’s ever-popular pizzas – available from just £5-7.
Choices here include classics like Margherita and not one but two styles of Marinara, plus a Toscana (parma ham, truffle oil, parmesan), Chorizo (salami, chorizo, mozzarella), Calabrese (n’duja sausage and burrata) and The Smoked (smoked pepperoni, crispy onion and burrata).
Elsewhere, you can get your hands on hot slices of deep-fried lasagne, as well as Oreo milkshakes, hot coffees and cold fizzy cans of coke, San Pellegrino and more.
The mixed-pack is the ultimate party starter kit, tailor-made for carefree sessions, and backyard barbecues.
Charlie Leaver, Head of Brand at Global Brands said: “We’re thrilled to share the release of Blue Hooch ahead of summer. Introducing the leading flavour in traditional party-drinks, Blue, to our nostalgic, zingy line-up was just a matter of time, and has created what will certainly be a new Hooch fan favourite!
“The Hooch Mixed Packs are another exciting development, providing our all-new Orange Hooch and Blue Hooch cans, with Pink Hooch and Hooch Lemon. Featuring the full range of citrusy Hooch flavours, these are the perfect grab-and-go pack for barbecues and summer get-togethers.”
Blue Hooch taps into the huge blue drinks trend, which includes popular party starters like VK Blue, while keeping the tongue-tingling zesty flavours and nostalgia that Hooch fans know and love. At an easy drinking 4% ABV, it’s set to be the drink of the summer; perfect for sunny socials! Grab a mixed pack to share with your friends.
Hooch Mixed Packs are now available at Tesco for £15. You can also purchase a fridge pack of Blue Hooch (24 x 440ml) online from Good Time In for £39.50.