For a restaurant concept that took off as a global, viral fad for Sydney-based themed events company Viral Ventures, the Australian public appears to have developed some immunity to the purposefully rude customer service novelty of Karen's Diner.
Following a Facebook post last week noting some of its Australian pop-up stores had closed, the corporate regulator confirmed today that the company responsible for Karen's Diner has gone into liquidation.
Early last week Chris Johnson and Andrew McCabe were appointed liquidators of Viral Ventures (Australia) Pty Ltd, which goes by the trading names Karen's Diner and Broadway Diner.
However, Viral Ventures co-founder Aden Levin confirmed two Karen's Diner restaurants in the Sydney CBD and North Rocks would remain operational as part of the broader Viral Group, as well as international operations.
"We've closed a few of the stores as noted and liquidated that subsidiary entity," says Levin.
"The other group entities running events and some venues will continue trading as normal, as well as the overseas operation."
At the start of 2023, the company reported it had 19 Karen's Diner locations across Australia, New Zealand, the UK, the US, and most recently, Indonesia as the first non-English speaking venue.
At the time, Levin said talks were underway all over the world, "from Singapore to Buenos Aires", and there was a goal to have 60 Karen's Diners running globally by the end of 2023.
“We've just opened in Jakarta with our first non-English speaking Karen’s, which is been an absolute runaway success. It's incredible. We’ll be opening in Bali and Dubai. We're in talks everywhere - from Singapore to Buenos Aires,” Levin says.
“There seems to be a bit of a global demand for rude hospitality. Our aim for the end of this year is to have about 60 Karen’s Diners running globally," he said, adding that the four most recent openings had been rolled out under a franchise model.
Those ambitions have clearly taken a hit with Australian store closures including Adelaide, Chermside and South Bank in Brisbane, Ryde in Sydney, and pop-ups in Melbourne, the Gold Coast and Perth.
"Unfortunately, all good things come to an end and Karen can’t stay forever! Today marks the closing of some of our Australian pop-up stores," the company said on Facebook last week.
"If your local pop-up store has closed, there will be a Karen’s Diner On Tour coming to your city this September. Karen can’t stay away and needs to give you a piece of her mind."
Viral Ventures also runs other immersive events such as bar and escape room hybrid The Wizard’s Den, Alice-in-Wonderland-inspired cocktail lounge The Alice, as well as pop-ups like The Brick Bar.
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