Karen’s Diner in Grand Central Birmingham raises a few eyebrows - but it isn’t for the rude customer service

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Karen’s Diner is renowned for raising a laugh with its tongue-in-cheek rude customer service - but it’s surprising diners for another reason recently

Karen’s Diner is known for its shocking and rude behaviour from the staff at its restaurant in Grand Central in Birmingham City Centre.

The America-style diner, run by Australian company Viral Ventures, has quite a unique approach to customer service - welcoming diners with tongue-in-cheek insults that raise a laugh. Their sassy staff and waiters are especially trained to be rude, and encourage guests to take part in a vareity of interactive games that raise a few eyebrows.

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There are multiple Karen’s Diners across the UK all with the same cheeky approach to food service - but today the concept has raised eyebrows for a shocking reason, which may not leave fans laughing.

It turns out that some of the branches have a less than exceptional ranking for food hygiene ratings. A branch in Newport, Wales, has a zero star rating in the latest awards from the Food Standards Agency.

And a quick look at the venue in Grand Central you will find that it received a poor one star rating in the latest round of inspections in Grand Central in November - just two months after it opened its doors. The one star ratings means ‘major improvement necessary’.

The FSA inspectors rated the Birmingham restaurant for its handling on food and cleanliness on the premises. The Food Standards Agency report said “improvement necessary” for hygienic handling of food including preparation, cooking, re-heating, cooling and storage and cleanliness and condition of facilities and building (including having appropriate layout, ventilation, hand washing facilities and pest control) to enable good food hygiene. For management of food safety, the diner needs major improvement.

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The diner has received similar FSA ratings in other parts of the UK as well. In Sheffield, it was given a two rating – meaning “improvement necessary”. However the restaurant remains popular in Birmingham. It has a 4.4 star rating after more than 1,200 reviews on OpenTable.

One reviewer said: “Staff are funny and always in character, definitely a meal to remember.” Another added: “I think they’d be pretty proud of a 1 star rating. I went to Karen’s Diner 2 days ago and I’m still traumatised lol they definitely play the school bully too well.

“A table sat next to us was frozen to the spot because they were scared to ask for condements or cutlery. Definitely have to have thick skin to take the abuse. If you bring your children don’t think they take it on them easy either.”

Karen's DinerKaren's Diner
Karen's Diner

However, SquareMeal reviewers of the Birmingham branch gave it only two stars. One revier wrote: “Not allowed entrance to the restaurant due to a friend’s dairy intolerance. The staff stated that they could not guarantee there would be no cross-contamination due to a recent change in the restaurant’s supplier.”

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Another added: “Food wasn’t good. The beef tasted quite greasy and the seasoning on the fries was a bit strange. I think the staff have lost the concept; there’s a difference with being rude and unhelpful and being a pain in the arse.

“Lots of repetitive jokes ie moving food and chairs from our table- once was quite funny 3 times wasn’t remotely amusing. Asking whether we still had sex with our partners wasn’t a least bit shocking and wasn’t at all relevant to the conversation we were having. Also suggesting that my husband was at home killing himself I thought wasn’t really relevant and again not an intelligent or shocking thing to say.”

The viral TikTok restaurant sensation is set to visit the south coast as parts of its tour across the UKThe viral TikTok restaurant sensation is set to visit the south coast as parts of its tour across the UK
The viral TikTok restaurant sensation is set to visit the south coast as parts of its tour across the UK

What Karen’s Diner in Grand Central said

Karen’s Diner spokesperson Paul Levin’s said: “When we opened there were some specific structural issues and we were not compliant with requirements and we were marked down.

“Since then, the whole kitchen has been upgraded. We have a new head chef and staff and we are in a happy place now. More than 45,000 diners have visited us for the good quality, well-prepared and safe food.

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“Our kitchen is managed and controlled by Shield Safety and we are waiting to be inspected again. Sadly, we are burdened with the historical rating but we are patiently waiting for the next inspection.”

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