A SELFLESS diner has committed the ultimate act of generosity, tipping restaurant staff $16,000 and telling them not to "spend it all at once".
The anonymous customer – who ate a couple of chili dogs, fried pickle chips and ordered some drinks costing no more than $38 – told workers at a New Hampshire restaurant the money was a thank you for their "hard work".
Staff at the Stumble Inn Bar and Grill in Londonderry didn't immediately notice the tip.
"A gentlemen came in at the bar and ordered a beer and a couple of chili cheese dogs, and then he ordered pickle chips and a Patron (tequila) drink," business owner Mike Zarella said.
"At around 3:30, he asked the bartender … for the check. She gave it to him and walked away, and then he said to her, 'Don't spend it all in one place.'"
The waiter was too busy to notice but moments later rushed over warning the customer he may have put two zeros too many in the tip column.
"She said, 'Oh my god, are you kidding me? She said, 'No, no, that's crazy,' and he said, 'No, I want you to have this,'" Zarella said.
At first, Zarella refused to take the tip, telling TODAY food he spoke to the man "for a couple of minutes" and was told he had to take the money because the customer "wanted this to happen".
The amount was split among eight bartenders and kitchen staff.
"He just said they deserve it, they work very hard," Zarella told a local news channel.
Though the donation was made on June 12, Zarella wanted to wait until the money was processed before publicising it on Monday.
He said the money would help staff, some of whom are single mums, get away on a much needed vacation.
"They're getting good money out of it. They're really overwhelmed. They're like, 'Wow, I can go do this this summer. I didn't budget for that, now I can do that.'
"It's really fantastic."
The cash will come as a big relief for crew who underwent a difficult year blighted by the impact of coronavirus restrictions on trade and their livelihoods.
"It just says there's good, kindhearted people out there that realize that people might have to struggle."
Some 110,000 restaurants and bars have closed since the pandemic, Zarella said.
"Maybe this gentleman saw how hard it was," he added.
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