A Karen's Diner manager has explained what it takes to work at the unique restaurant and the golden rules that staff must follow.
Anyone who has worked in hospitality will know that the customer is always right, apparently. But at Karen's Diner, this dynamic is flipped on its head – and the customer is always a prick.
The chain prides itself on its rude service, and if you visit one of its restaurants you can expect lots of swearing, menu-throwing and name-calling.
As such, it's not a dining experience for everyone – and it takes a certain kind of person to work there too.
Mica Young manages the Manchester branch, which opened in July, and she said the first thing prospective employees need to properly understand is the concept.
"I think the message kind of gets misinterpreted sometimes, as in like, we're the Karens," the 25-year-old said.
"I find it better to think when you're working at Karen's, that it's more the customers who are the Karens, and you don't give a s**t that much that they can be a Karen and you still don't care."
In case you're not aware, in recent years the term 'Karen' has been used to refer to the sort of entitled women who are likely to complain and ask to speak to the manager, and it went on to inspire the concept of Karen's Diner, which started out in Australia.
For the chain's employees, the art form is giving customers a grilling without overstepping the mark.
Mica said: "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."
For staff, it can be challenging covering the basics like in any other restaurant, while also remaining in character and correctly pitching their banter. In order to help them juggle these duties, staff undergo two weeks of extensive training and have some golden rules they must abide by.
"There's no use of the 'C word', you wouldn't use that at all," Mica said.
"And no personal comments that can really offend someone. So, you just wouldn't call someone a 'fat b*****d'.
"Let's say if like a 5ft 1ins man comes in and I call him 'short arse', if he then turned around was and like, 'Shut up, you fat b***h,' I can't say anything else, I've called you short arse, I've already commented on your body.
"So for us to be protected we need to follow those rules to a tee as well."
Staff must also acquaint themselves with a service handbook, which details jokes that aren't funny, such as putting food on the wrong customer's table, taking people's property or making gags about race, religion or disabilities.
But if employees can navigate all of the above, they may well walk home with a fat tip – fatter than in non-abusive restaurants, according to Mica. For while servers may have called a complete stranger a d******d and looked at them like s**t on their shoe, customers keep walking away with smiles on their faces.
"Tips are completely shared with the whole team," Mica explained. "From the kitchen porters to the bar, everyone.
"People only pay for the food and drink when they come here. They don't pay for any of the service, and there's no entry fee or anything like that.
"It's like a performance tip, because you are constantly performing. You're constantly playing a character.
"And you know, it's not making sure they have a s**t time, it's making sure they actually have a really good time in the atmosphere that you're in, and adapting to them.
"People tip us really well – especially if they put requests in their bookings for certain inside jokes that they may have in their group, or anything that you can use against their table.
"And for some reason, they still tip us even when we talk to them like s**t. It's great."