Lifestyle & Human Interest

Bar Owner Receives Anonymous Envelope with $500 in Payment for 45-Year-Old Debt


A bar owner in Nebraska was recently stunned by a stranger’s kind gesture after a nameless envelope arrived with a wad of cash and a long-overdue apology tucked inside.

Pete Watters has only been the owner of “Zoo Bar,” a popular tavern in Lincoln, Nebraska for the past eighteen years. But the bar itself has been around for much longer, going as far back as the early 1970s. The pub recently celebrated its 46th anniversary, and according to Watters, the local haunt has many patrons who care deeply about keeping Zoo Bar special.

“We’re lucky,” he said. “We’ve got some people that really care about the place. They go above and beyond,” he told KLKN-TV.

The owner started working at the bar over three decades ago, but he knows that some of its customers have been coming around even longer. Still, he never expected that loyalties for Zoo Bar would go back as far as they do — or that someone would go out of their way to repay a debt after 45 years.

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An anonymous letter recently arrived at the watering hole.

At first, Watters assumed it was a complaint letter, according to KLKN-TV.

But to his surprise, the envelope contained five one hundred dollar bills, along with a brief note. It was addressed only to “Zoo Bar Owner” and had a postmark from Omaha.

The stranger’s note read, “45 years ago I broke the Zoo Bar sign. Here is my restitution.”

Initially, Watters found himself laughing in disbelief. But the more he thought about it, the more the bar owner realized what a kind gesture the long-delayed apology truly was. And he began to wonder how the stranger had managed to suppress his or her conscience for all those years.

Based on the timeline, the stranger is likely one of the first customers ever to frequent Zoo Bar, back in the tavern’s early days.

“Nothing like this has ever happened that I can remember,” Watters said.

“This has nothing to do with me personally,” he added. “It’s that they care about the place. It’s humbling that somebody would care enough to do that.”

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At the moment, Watters isn’t sure how he’s going to spend the five hundred dollars. Whatever he decides to do, the bar’s proprietor says he wants it to be used for something fun.

But as for the identity of the strange patron, he said he doesn’t have a clue.

“I have no idea, this person might still come here. Or it might have been so long ago, they’re just trying to clear their conscience,” Watters said.

Regardless, the pub owner says that the note and the “restitution” have restored his faith in the overall kindness of people. That someone would go out of his way to repay a debt after so much time has passed impressed him with the idea that it’s never too late to seek forgiveness for a past mistake.

“It’s a really, really kind act that’s for sure,” he said.

The Western Journal has reached out to Watters for comment but has not yet received a response. We will update this article if and when we do.

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Laura Stewart was an associate story editor and news and lifestyle contributor for The Western Journal.
Laura Stewart was an associate story editor and news and lifestyle contributor for The Western Journal.
Phoenix, AZ