Many stories of generous tipping follow a familiar pattern: Generous tipper(s) gives a shocking amount of cash either in person or on the receipt, server(s) freaks out and is grateful and everyone goes home happy.
Not so in this tale out of Arkansas, where the generous tip sounded the death knell for one server’s career at that particular restaurant.
Ryan Brandt has worked at Oven and Tap in Bentonville, Arkansas, for 3.5 years. On Dec. 3, a large group of over 40 business professionals bustled in, and Brandt and another server were assigned to them.
Grant Wise, who owns a real estate company, spoke on behalf of the group, saying this was something they’d come up with during the pandemic as a way to give back to people in the community who could really use the blessing.
Wise even called ahead to check the restaurant’s tipping policy and make sure it would work with their plan.
“We knew that we wanted to do something cool,” Wise told KSFM-TV. “We knew we were going to go out to dinner.”
“He wanted to kind of put our efforts together and bless someone in the community for this holiday season,” realtor Rebeca Soto said.
“You’d be surprised how big of impact you can do on someone else’s life,” added Josue Soto, another business professional in the group.
So at the end of their meal, Wise presented a tearful Brandt with a $4,400 tip to split between herself and the other server.
“It was an incredible thing to be able to do, to see the server’s reaction and to know what that meant for her and the impact that it’s had on her life already,” Wise said, according to WXIN.
But things quickly went south. When the rest of the restaurant heard about the huge tip, Brandt quickly found out that she wasn’t going to be allowed to keep it, but that it would be pooled — something she said had never been required in her 3.5 years working there.
“I was to give my cash over to my shift manager, to be taken, and then that I was gonna be taking home 20%,” Brandt said, according to WXIN.
When she discovered this, she let Wise know about the situation, and he was not happy. He made it clear that it was not his intention to have the tip pooled and went to the restaurant and got his tip back.
He met up with Brandt outside the establishment and handed her the $2,200 directly. But it was a small victory because, shortly afterwards, Brandt was fired — for “violating policy” by telling Wise about the tip pooling issue.
“It was devastating. I borrowed a significant amount of money for student loans,” Brandt said. “Most of them, you know, were kind of turned off for quar… for the covid year and a half, and they are turning back on on Jan. 1, and that’s like a reality I’m facing.”
The restaurant has issued a statement about the incident, but it doesn’t exactly clear anything up.
“After dining, this large group of guests requested that their gratuity be given to two particular servers,” they said, according to WXIN. “We fully honored their request. Out of respect for our highly valued team members, we do not discuss the details surrounding the termination of an employee.”
Despite the statement, plenty of people online are boycotting the restaurant as a result, saying Brandt’s situation seems terribly unfair.
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