Concerns over Viral Adventure’s Karen’s Diner restaurant in Brisbane

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A ‘silly meal’ experience in Brisbane where customers can ‘take it easy’ on staff offering poor service has raised serious concerns.

A new dining experience where customers can ‘vent their frustrations with life’ to staff has worried experts it could expose workers to a potentially abusive and dangerous environment.

The Brisbane eatery, called Karen’s Diner, is set to open in Southbank in January and serve American comfort food with a serious attitude.

Viral Adventures is the company behind the concept and its director Aden Levin described it as a “very fun and silly dining experience” offering questionable service but where customers would be welcome to show their disdain to the staff. .

“It’s a place where people can come and express their frustrations of life to the staff, they can get it back from our staff,” he said. The Mail Mail.

“It’s a place where you don’t take yourself too seriously, deliver great food and pride yourself on having bad service.”

He added that the events company had seen the bad behavior of the “Karens” staff cops over the years without having the opportunity to fix it.

“People have been locked down and our restaurant is a place where they can come and release that anger in a nice, controlled environment,” Levin said.

“We saw the opportunity with Karens trending in the media and thought why not create a place where we embrace Karen control and everyone can be a Karen.”

But behavioral scientist Aaron McEwan of global research and advisory firm Gartner said while it was “interesting stuff” that has been done before in places like New York, it could create a dangerous situation.

“One of the things we’ve seen with the pandemic is societies fragmenting along political and other lines, with anti-vax/anti-mask conflicts being one of the most obvious,” he said. at news.com.au.

“My feeling is that frustrations are high, burnout is on the rise, people are out of breath, so it’s probably not a smart move to openly encourage this kind of potentially abusive and very unstable environment. .

“What starts out as good-natured fun could very quickly turn into a dangerous situation that poses a huge risk to an employer who is obligated to provide a safe working environment for staff and a company that could be sued for failing to protect his clients.”

But Mr Levin said Viral Adventures employed highly skilled actors as staff to ensure they knew where to draw the line “with a bit of jovial fun”.

‘All customers who come to the restaurant know what to expect and we ensure that the humor remains jovial and superficial,’ he told news.com.au.

“The safety of our customers and staff is paramount and we have created a fun experience that allows staff and customers to enjoy shared humor in a safe environment.”

Employment expert and managing partner of law firm Clyde & Co, Michael Tooma, said the concept was “worrying” because employers have a duty of care to staff in terms of physical as well as psychological safety.

“It has the potential to create a dangerous workplace for staff, particularly when there is no clarity as to the line between jokes and abuse, and all may well seem fine until someone goes too far and a staff member suffers severe psychological damage. ,” he said.

“If the concept is as advertised, it should get the attention of occupational health and safety regulators and it would be concerning if this type of concept were to take hold.”

Mr Levin said the comment ‘about anyone venting their life frustrations towards each other’ was taken out of context and that the restaurant was more of a place where staff could get their order wrong or make someone tell a clumsy joke.

“It’s a lighthearted pleasure that never gets personal,” he said.

“All customers not only book knowing what they are expecting, but our staff also reconfirm it to customers upon arrival to ensure everyone is on the same page.”

The pop-up experiment had a mixed response on Facebook.

“Oh my God. This is so dangerous!!! Isn’t anyone else concerned about the psychological (not to say physical) safety of the staff? Are they even trained to mentally handle this? Do they have an EAP?

“And what kind of world do we live in freaking out where it’s promoted to treat people horribly? No thanks. Do a pop-up dinner that offers discounts on acts of kindness if you think the closures have been difficult for everyone!!!!,” one woman wrote.

“I wonder when the drunk customer gets aggressive, how will that be handled? Sounds like a fun idea in theory, but when dealing with the public you’ll have people who don’t know how to play properly,” said another man.

But others might see the fun of it. “Hopefully they’ll be open 24 hours a day, there’s a LOT of ventilation to do,” one woman joked.

“Definitely a market for this one. Well done,” another person said.

Karen’s Diner is expected to stay open for a year when it launches in 2022.

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