It’s Hard Out There For A Waitress
Just like every other restaurant server in this pandemic era, Ryan Brandt had been having a hard time making ends meet. Restrictions had made it difficult for her restaurant to conduct business with the usual efficiency, and clients were less in number.
Of course, this had an effect on the bulk of the tips she would take home at the end of every shift. In this situation, Ryan’s debts seemed to her like an unbearable and overwhelming burden.
The Story Of Ryan
Ryan was a Spanish graduate from the University of Arkansas. She owed a great amount of money in student loans; her humble origins had made it impossible for her to fund her studies through other means than loans and work.
And regardless of her demanding situation, she didn’t throw in the towel: she kept attending to every shift at the restaurant and providing the customers with the best service possible. That was until a man named Grant Wise crossed his path.
Who’s Grant Wise?
Grant Wise was the owner of a real estate company with a great affinity for restaurant servers. So much so that he initiated a project named the ‘$100 Dinner Club’: a congregation of people who would meet in a restaurant and agree to contribute with $100 from each member of the group.
The total sum of money would be given to the servers of the restaurant as a tip. Grant Wise felt a particular connection and care for restaurant servers, despite never having been one himself. What could be the reason for such affinity then?
A Good-Willed Benefactor?
The answer is that Grant Wise was just a good and charitable man. It was one of his friends who came up with the idea: “We knew servers really hit hard through Covid and it was something that he had come up with to help give back.”, Wise said in an interview when asked about the project.
However, this generous character would sometimes become a double edged sword, as it would show later on.
The $100 Dinner Club Reunion
It all started when, one day, Wise decided to get the $100 Dinner Club together to go to this restaurant named Oven and Tap in Bentonville, Arkansas. He had hosted a real estate conference in the city and had chosen that restaurant to add the final touch to the evening.
When it came time to raise money for the tips, a total of $4,400 was raised. Then Wise approached one of the waitresses and uttered some words that, for better or worse, would change that woman’s life forever.
It Was All Recorded
Grant Wise had no clue of what the consequences of his actions would be, and he probably didn’t expect what he said and what he did to be heard and seen all over the world.
But one of the members of the $100 Dinner Club was recording that moment, and what Wise said and did was recorded on camera.
‘I’m so sorry to interrupt everyone’s dinner, this will only take 60 seconds,’ Wise says in the video. ‘We have a table full of absolutely amazing people from all over the country who have traveled here, and tonight we’re hosting a $100 Dinner Club.’
‘Everyone at this table has contributed or tipped $100 for you and for the other waitress. And then we put it out to our social media channels, and then we actually had a bit more money sent in, so we are tipping a total of $4,400 for you to split with the other girl who took care of us.’
It Seemed Like A Dream
That waitress was Ryan Brandt. With tears in her eyes, she embraced Wise and thanked him and the rest of the members of the $100 Dinner Club for their kind and generous gesture.
She had just received $2,200 dollars that would allow her to pay back some of her student loan and alleviate some of her other financial worries.
Too Good To Be True
After Wise and the rest of the $100 Dinner Club left the restaurant, she ran to her coworker to bring her the good news and split the money with her.
All that was in her mind was how much easier her life would get with that miraculous extra money. Little did she know that what was making her smile would also make her cry later down the road.
The Managers Step In
Word got to the restaurant’s managers about the $4,400 bounty. They demanded that the big tip should be shared between all the restaurant’s staff.
This would leave Ryan with only a 20% share of what Wise gave her and what she initially expected to take home. But that wasn’t all.
Adding Insult To Injury
Ryan had told Wise, when he asked her about it, that it wasn’t part of the restaurant’s policy to split server’s tips between the members of the staff. And, according to the managers, this was a violation of the restaurant’s rules!
This was found as enough reason to fire Ryan, leaving her unemployed and adding to her financial troubles.
Later, Wise made some declarations that brought some light into the issue: before going to Arkansas’ Oven and Tap with the $100 Dinner Club, Wise himself had called the restaurant.
He had asked whether the servers were required to split their bills with the rest of the staff. The answer he was given makes this situation clearer.
The Manager’s Answer
He was told that the restaurant didn’t have any such a policy; every server was allowed to take home the entirety of their tips. So the situation was crystal clear: Ryan had been the victim of an unfair decision and, probably, of the greed and envy of the restaurant’s manager.
Now, unemployed and with little money in her pockets, it seemed like Wises’s act of generosity had more negative than positive consequences.
What Did Wise Do Then
So this is what Wise decided to do: he started a fundraising campaign to help Ryan out. In only a few days, he raised $8,732. However, one day Ryan called him to let him know that she no longer needed the money and to ask him to stop the campaign. Something had happened.
Ryan had found a new job at a different restaurant, and no longer needed the money. Still, she was extremely grateful towards Wise and the rest of the $100 Dinner Club. Then, Wise started considering what could be done with the money she had raised for Ryan..
He decided to invite Ryan to become a ‘Guest of Honor’ for the next meeting of the $100 Dinner Club. He also came to the conclusion that the money he had raised for Ryan would better be spent in helping other servers out.
From that moment, the tips granted by the $100 Dinner Club were to be shared among all the staff of the restaurant to which the Club would go. ‘We will be working to ensure through this that all staff in the restaurant are tipped so everyone feels blessed by our dinner.’, he declared on the campaign’s page.