GAINESVILLE, Fla. — It was a slow night at the Wahoo Seafood Grill when a man accompanied by his wife and child walked into the restaurant.
There were only 10 employees working Tuesday night and only two tables had customers.
Seeing the employees’ bustling about as they ran the restaurant, the mystery man called them all together, thanking them for their hard work.
Bryce Daniels, a cook at Wahoo, said as soon as the man began his speech they knew that something interesting was going to happen.
The mystery man then went to pay his family’s $144 bill and decided to leave the employees a $10,000 tip, to be split between the 10 staff members. Each of them went home with $1,000 — just about a smidge under a 700% tip per.
Daniels, 26, described the man as rugged, heavy-set and muscular. Bryce said his wife was “pristine” and their son was shy.
Grateful for tip in pandemic times
Shawn Shepherd, who owns Wahoo, said he received the phone call around 9:15 p.m. alerting him to the huge tip. His first thought was that it couldn’t be real.
“Check his ID and the name on the back of his credit card,” Shepherd advised his employee.
Shepherd said their point-of-sale system approved the transaction. He was blown away. He checked back the next day to make sure the money was still there. It was.
“Watching these guys get their check was almost as good as Christmas morning,” Shepherd said.
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Shepherd said he was especially grateful for the man’s largesse because the workers there that night were loyal employees who stuck with the business during the pandemic.
Ashley Green was one of them.
She was called into work Tuesday and had recently hit a rough patch when her daughter became ill.
“She’s had a hard month, she’s been not able to work. Kid has been in and out of the hospital. It’s been absolutely a really stressful time for her,” Shepherd said.
When the COVID-19 pandemic began, Wahoo temporarily closed its doors on March 28. He said he lost $30,000 worth of food.
“I knew nothing about curbside, I knew nothing about delivery and take out. We weren’t prepared for that. We didn’t even have the containers to do it,” Shepherd said.
The Florida Restaurant Lodging Association and the Alachua County Chamber of Commerce were a big help to the business, helping them find emergency funding so he could pay his employees.
They reopened in mid-May.
“And that was all great, but we had no business coming through the front door,” Shepherd said.
Shepherd said he’s indebted to his employees because even through the struggles they helped keep the business afloat.
This article originally appeared on The Gainesville Sun: $10,000 tip: Florida restaurant employees overwhelmed by generous diner