Sound The Alarm
She didn’t think that her shift would end quite this way. The men dining there used the words “private” and “backroom”, she felt anything but comfortable. Then they asked for the manager. She just wished the ground would swallow her up.
Then they signed with their name. When she looked at it she felt dizzy and couldn’t stand up anymore.
Hard Work And Long Days
Ashley Latella worked as a waitress at Seagrape Cafe in Fairfield, Connecticut. It was a night shift when the men came through the doors. It was December when the cafe was at its busiest. She always found it hard to keep up with orders.
She went between all of her tables, making sure the patrons were happy. But customers were piling into the bar at a staggering rate.
Ashley always dreaded this time of year. It was always so busy at these festive times. The cafe was no stranger to end-of-year parties where people spent their Christmas bonuses.
It was on nights like these that Ashley couldn’t guess how the night would go.
A lot of students frequented the bar. They were rowdy and loud and kept ordering shot after shot. As soon as the DJ started up the excitement was in the air.
Ashley tried keeping up with all the patrons as she pushed passed the sea of people in the bar. That’s when her manager told her to look at the corner of the room, three men sat there in suits.
Big Brother Is Watching You
The men must have been in their forties. They didn’t fit in with the other younger people at the bar. Her manager, Carlos, knew all of their regulars, but these men were new arrivals.
He wanted to keep a watchful eye on the men and Ashley but with the crowded and hectic night, he would find that hard.
Ashley kept her patrons happy, this wasn’t her first time when it came to the cafe being crowded. She had seen and dealt with people from all sorts of places. She was a veteran, but these men gave her a chill down her spine.
She couldn’t put her finger on it, but they were very unnerving.
They kept ordering drinks and kept their eyes on her as she walked away from their table. They would also always be dead quiet when she got returned to the table with their drinks.
But when they asked for the bill she would fully understand what their motives were.
Ashley knew by now that customers who were quiet normally meant trouble. Ashley would normally ask for a male waiter to swap tables with her, but tonight was too busy.
She’d just have to keep the table because everyone else was swamped as it was. The men waited until the last second to reveal their true motives to her.
Seagrape Cafe was a bar for younger students. So why didn’t these men go to a more mature establishment? They stuck out like a sore thumb.
Ashley had a funny feeling that these men were up to something. And as it turns out, she would be right.
Caught Off Guard
As an experienced waitress, Ashley was used to both good and bad customers. Of course, some customers were simply rude.
Even so, Ashley always did her best to treat all her customers well and give them all good service. Nevertheless, there was little that could have prepared Ashley for when the men refused to pay their bill.
Tip Of The Iceberg
Finally, the men asked her to bring them their bill and Ashley felt relieved. The end of her shift was drawing close and she looked forward to getting some rest at home before the next day’s work. However, the night wasn’t over yet.
When she came back to collect their bill, however, she wasn’t prepared for what they wanted from her.
What Did They Want?
When Ashley tried to pick up the bill folder, one of the men kept it pinned to the table with his elbows and wouldn’t let her take it. As if taunting her, he picked up the bill held it where she couldn’t reach it. It was at that moment that all three men stood up.
The men refused to hand over the bill and instead made it clear that they wanted her to go into a back room with them.
What On Earth?
Ashley didn’t understand what was going on. The man with the bill folder leaned in whispered to her. At first, it was difficult to hear what he wanted over the noise. Then she finally heard his unsettling request — to settle the bill in private — and her blood ran cold.
Ashley looked around wildly, her only thought was to find her manager.
Ashley started to suspect the worst. What reason did these men have to want to settle their bill somewhere else? If there were any complaints, surely they could tell her right there in the bar?
Admittedly there could be a simple explanation, but that didn’t matter to her. The only thing on her mind was that she was definitely not going into a back room with them.
Luckily, Carlos noticed as Ashley went past. He saw her expression and he knew something was wrong. Ashley sighed in relief when he stopped them. Even though he had expected some trouble, he was just as surprised when Ashley explained the situation to him.
He immediately took control and insisted that all five of them would go to the back room together.
Naturally, Carlos’ first instinct was that they had some complaints about the service. He just hoped that nothing would get out of control. Things became even tenser as he walked into the back room followed by the three men and Ashley.
Finally, the men had Ashley and Carlos where they wanted them. The pair were in for quite a surprise.
Behind Closed Doors
Once they were all alone the men admitted what Ashley had suspected all night. They had indeed been watching her and the other bartenders the whole night. They had seen the bartenders being run ragged and couldn’t help but be impressed.
This made Carlos relax as the men handed him the bill. However, when he saw what was written at the bottom of the bill he nearly fainted.
Carlos couldn’t believe his eyes when he saw $500 at the bottom of the bill. Never before had he heard of a $500 tip on a $112 bill. He was amazed that these men were tipping the staff so generously but then they just told him to take a closer look.
Carlos had made a mistake. The tip wasn’t $500.
When he looked again, Carlos went from amazed to utterly confused. The color drained from his face and Ashley started to cry. As he explained in an interview, “I saw another zero.”
Ashley hugged the man once she pulled herself together. It was a $5000 tip and not a $500 tip as they thought. The question, however, remained why?
One Tip At A Time
Everyone wondered who these men that spent so much money and gave such huge tips were. What had made them choose the staff of the Seagrape Café?
The explanation that the men gave was that they were members of the “Tips for Jesus” group. Doing “the Lord’s work, one tip at a time,” was their mission.
What To Do
The group of men had been traveling all over America, giving large tips to the hardworking wait staff in restaurants and bars. In Manhattan alone they’d tipped $11,500 already. Naturally, news of this story spread quickly on social media. From all over America, people started to come forward to share their own experiences. One bartender shared that he had received a whopping $1,000 tip on an $85 bill.
It didn’t take long for Ashley to decide what to do with her portion of the generous tip.
Making A Difference
Ashley knew what she wanted to do. She needed to pay it forward somehow. She decided to buy as many toys as possible from a local toy store. She then went and donated all the toys to the Al’s Angels toy drive! As grateful as she was, she didn’t keep any of the money for herself.
Ashley had planned to do exactly that for a while. She explained, “I’ve been trying to gather toys at my office. Toys, blankets.”
The generosity of the “Tips for Jesus” group came at the perfect time. The men had no idea that Ashley was just as generous herself. Proof that what goes around, comes around.
Strange things go viral on social media. Some, such as the ‘Tide Pod challenge’ are even dangerous.
Bringing Home The Bacon
Being a server has always been just a way to make ends meet. It has never been considered a “get rich quick” method though — that might be changing.
The ‘tip the bill’ challenge spreads kindness, joy, and makes everyone feel good all at once. Best of all, anyone can take part in this challenge.
Tip The Bill
How the ‘tip the bill’ challenge is quite simple. You order whatever it is you want from the menu and when you pay the bill, you tip 100% of the bill. Of course, some people have decided to take that much further.
The timing of this challenge is also perfect since recent studies have indicated that close to 50% of people don’t know what the right amount to tip is. This has led to a tipping ‘slump’ of sorts. But what is the proper amount to tip?
The Proper Amount
For those who don’t know, the recommended amount to budget for a tip when eating at a restaurant is between 15% and 20% of the bill. I
As mentioned previously, some people, such as this regular at the Blue 4 restaurant in upper Northwest Washington, are taking it a step further.
According to the four-year-old restaurant’s owner, Christofer Nardelli, the customer in question lives locally and comes to the bar several times a month.
The customer’s favorite menu item is the gumbo. This gumbo consists of a chicken and andouille sausage base with a dark roux and it is paired with an Old Chub Scotch Ale.
On occasion, Christofer and James Turner, the chef, will email food pairings and the beer selection. This is in an attempt to keep customers up to date on what’s new and happening at the restaurant.
Since the generous tip, James has mailed the customer personally to thank them and to ask him to let them know the next time he would come to the restaurant. This is so that James can make sure he’s made the gumbo the customer likes.
Once the customers had finished eating, they paid their bill and left. It was only sometime later that anyone realized something was out f the ordinary.
Laura Dally, the bartender, saw the bill on the table and went over to pick it up. The gumbo-loving regular is known to be a good tipper, but this was beyond what anyone had expected.
The restaurant staff couldn’t believe that someone would leave such a generous tip on a bill of $93.
They were getting ready to close and while everyone cleaned, Laura picked up the bill, looked inside, and immediately ran to Chris.
The owner, bartender, and chef of the Connecticut Avenue restaurant could not believe their eyes when they saw that the customer had left a $2,000 tip on a $93 bill.
As Laura put it, “I was in an utter daze. I was completely speechless. I had to do a double-take.” She ran to Chris and said, “We need to talk.”
Is This The Real Life Or Is This Just Fantasy?
Back in Chris’ office, Laura showed him the bill. “I didn’t know what to say,” Chris admits. “This is the kind of stuff you see in the restaurant business that happens to some guy in the Midwest or the West Coast,” he joked.
“You think, who are these people who give these extraordinarily generous tips that just made a server or bartender’s day? And then, sure enough, it happened to us.”
Split The Tip
On the slip showing the $2000 was a set of instructions. They detailed how the tip should be split. Laura and Chris were each to get $500 and chef James was to get the remaining $1000.
The question remained, why would someone leave a huge tip like that?
Gratitude And Gratuity
When Chris emailed the customer the next day to say thank you, he also received an explanation for the incredible tip. “He said he’s very happy with what we’ve built and that he’s proud to be a customer,” Chris explained.
In the e-mail, the customer also said, “I’m very happy to express my gratitude in that way.”
Spreading The Love
The three recipients of the tip are also choosing wise ways to use their unexpected windfalls. Chris believes that James will be spending the money on his family, while Chris himself plans to offset his child’s monthly day-care fees with the money. 29-year-old Laura, who is a Silver Spring resident, plans use her money to attend Montgomery College to do a summer class
Her dream is to become an occupational therapist.
“It’s flattering,” Chris said. “It’s nice to see somebody appreciate what we do and they’re willing to leave something like that for us. It’s hard to believe anyone deserves a tip like that.” Laura remarked that in her 10 years working on and off in the hospitality industry, “Never! Never have I gotten a tip this big. Never.”
There was also one more note on the back of the bill. It simply read “Thank you for the Gumbo!”