The owners of the "rudest cafe in New Zealand" have gone into hiding after their customer service was lambasted across national media at the weekend.

The Springfield Store and Cafe, on the western edge of the Canterbury Plains - the last spot to grab a feed before Arthur's Pass - made headlines after receiving numerous "terrible" reviews on TripAdvisor.

Owners Karyn and Donald Cullingford have been blasted as "rude", "paranoid", and putting "Gordon Ramsay to shame".

They hit the headlines in 2016 and branded "New Zealand's own Fawlty Towers" after featuring in a nine-minute video posted by an angry customer who had waited an hour (his version) or half an hour (the owner's) for a pottle of chips.


It's a high volume exchange that makes John Cleese's fictional restaurant owner sound laid-back.

Since then, others have piled on with bad reviews, despite its reputation for award-winning pies.

Trip Advisor gives it 1.5 stars, Google Reviews the same 1.5 score, and Yellow just 1 star.

The Springfield Cafe on the western fringe of the Canterbury Plains, has received bad reviews on TripAdvisor.
The Springfield Cafe on the western fringe of the Canterbury Plains, has received bad reviews on TripAdvisor.

Christchurch's Col Henderson said in a recent review that he has never encountered "such a rude person".

Many former and current customers agreed with the numerous poor reviews, including allegations the cafe worker tried to get rid of a sparrow with fly spray.

"I've been there before and a sparrow was inside, so she told one of her workers to get fly spray and spray the sparrow to get rid of it. Unbelievable," the former customer wrote.

A tourist also weighed in, saying the owners made them feel uncomfortable.

"We will never return back to this cafe, never. All we could hear was the husband and wife arguing with one another and felt totally uncomfortable, was not the nicest way to start our holiday, that's for sure."


Another revealed her recent experience, saying the service was poor and the coffees were terrible.

Another former customer gave her two cents' worth, writing: "We went there you could feel the bad vibes in the shop; the lady was very abrupt. I did ask her if she was having a bad day. The food is nice and they could do so well there if she wasn't so rude."

A worker in the café this morning told the Herald the Cullingfords were not working today.

Asked if she would pass on a request to comment, she doubted they would respond.

"How are they doing?" she was asked.

"Not good."

She didn't want to say anything else.

However, the smiling university student who works there part-time did sell a delicious steak, blue stilton cheese and mushroom pie.

While the taste was superb, the flaky pastry disappeared into an air pocket like candy floss.

It was chased down with a moist banana cake topped with chocolate icing that overpowered its headlined ingredient.

The cafe had a steady stream of customers, predominantly international tourists, today.

Not many spoke English. It was hard to tell why they wanted to take group photos outside. Maybe they'd read the reviews or news sites.

The locals were reluctant, at best, to talk about the place. They didn't want to get dragged into it, they said.

But one guy down the main street, speaking on condition of anonymity, said he felt sorry for the Cullingfords.

"I don't want anything to do with it, but your heart has to go out to them, who'd want that? But as she says, she does bring a lot of it on herself."