New starters at Karen's Diner given service handbook with jokes they have to avoid
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Karen's Diner has become an absolute viral sensation.
However, while diners are guaranteed to be treated with utter contempt, it isn't in fact lawless, and staff undergo two weeks of training to make sure they have a handle on the dos and don'ts.
"The vibe of Karen's can either go to two extremes if not done carefully, these are the 'Saturday Disney Vibe' or the 'Crossed the Line Karen's Vibe'," the handbook explains.
The former undesirable vibe comes about when staff are too soft and treat customers like children, which can be cringeworthy; the latter can be more harmful if staff find themselves traumatising customers by digging into their insecurities.
To ensure staff understand the parameters of banter, there are house rules which must be followed, and breaching these will result in immediate dismissal. The rules are as follows: no racism, sexism, homophobia, ableism or body image comments.
Beyond this, the handbook contains a more detailed section which lists 'jokes/gags that just aren't funny and/or don't work'.
The list reads as follows:
- Taking people's property
- Making jokes about abortion
- Using G-rated swearwords
- Jokes about people's body image
- Jokes about race, religion or disability
- Putting someone's food on the wrong table
- Joking about putting something in someone's food that they don't want
- Pretending to have Covid
- Throwing water/drinks/food at people
- Spraying people with cleaning products
- Shaking cans
- Saying 'c**t'
- Making sexual remarks towards people or flirting with them
It's important to remember that the aim of staff ultimately is to ensure that guests have a positive experience - just in their own distinctive way.
As the handbook explains: "Though we're supposed to be sassy and rude to people, the most important part of Karen's vibe is that people are still having fun and no boundaries are crossed."
Of course, different people have different boundaries, so staff need to adapt their approach accordingly.
Mica Young, manager of the Manchester branch, told LADbible: "I think you need to have the balance of reading people's body language and knowing when they're actually enjoying it, and then kind of back off a little bit when you can sense someone's a bit nervous or a bit awkward.
"You're not always doing the same thing every time, but you have to kind of adapt to the customer that you get. Some people you get – middle-aged men – are really up for it and they want you to go in hard, and they have a specific person that they want you to bully. But then people come in who just want to try it because they've seen it on the internet, so you have to have two completely different approaches."
This performative element of the role means it suits people from theatrical backgrounds, like Mica; however, getting the basics right, like any other restaurant, is key.
"I'd always suggest when people are starting off, just focus on the hospitality side of it and just brush customers off with a shrug," Mica said. "Still, make sure you're getting the hospitality side of it done.
"So if someone applies, and they're like, 'I'm a b***h, just hire me,' more than likely their CV is just gonna get thrown in the bin, because it's just so unoriginal.
"We do like to see a lot of uniqueness – there's not one way that someone would have an interview. It's just kind of whatever someone brings to the table, we'll just let them go with it. And then you can definitely tell people's character through that if they're going to be good for the job or not."