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Customer leaves $16,000 tip after eating a $37 meal: 'Proof that decent people are out there'

He had ordered a few hot dogs, chips, a coke, beer, and a shot of tequila. He stunned the staff by leaving a huge tip.

Customer leaves $16,000 tip after eating a $37 meal: 'Proof that decent people are out there'
Image source: Left: (representative) Getty Images/ Right: Facebook/michael.zarella.7

A generous customer shocked the staff at a restaurant in New Hampshire after tipping $16,000 on his $37 tab. It was a regular day at the restaurant when an unnamed customer walked into the restaurant, sat at the outside bar, and ordered some food. The man wasn't a regular, so the staff didn't really know him. He ordered two hot dogs, some chips, a coke, a beer, and a shot of tequila. After having his meal, he called for the tab. It was $37. After paying the bill and leaving the tip, he jokingly told the bartender, "Don't spend it all in one place," recalled Mike Zarella, the owner of Stumble Inn Bar & Grill in Londonderry, reported CNN.

Bill in plate on restaurant table/Getty Images


It was Mike Zarella who shared the story on Facebook. Initially, the bartender didn't notice the check or the tip. The customer gave her a hint, nudging her to take a look at the check. "When she looked down, she was just absolutely shocked. She was like, 'Oh, my God, no, that's just crazy,'" said Zarella. "The girls went over to him and thanked him. They are overjoyed." The customer had left the tip on June 12, but Zarella waited until the payment went through before posting the story on Facebook. 


The customer did eventually return and has been a regular at the restaurant since. He preferred to stay anonymous. Zarella spoke to him when he returned and asked him if he was sure about the big tip. "I went over and sat with him, and I thanked him and told him, 'Are you sure? Because we're uncomfortable with this amount of money,'" said Zarella. "If he had made a mistake and asked for it back, we would have given it back, but he said, 'No, I want them to have that money.'"

The restaurant adopts a pool tipping policy and thus the staff shared it among themselves. Eight bartenders working the shift could have split the money among themselves but they decided it was only fair to include the four staff members in the kitchen. Zarella didn't take any of the tip. He added that many people had heavily criticized the restaurant over its pool tipping policy. "We've been getting killed on social media lately, but pool tipping is common in certain restaurants and it works for us," said Zarella said. "It doesn't matter how big the tip is; they still share it with everyone working that shift. In the end, this is just a happy story and we are grateful for his generosity."

Image Source: Getty Images (representative)


One person argued that the tip was meant for the bartender alone and wasn't to be shared. After the split, the bartender ended up with $400 which didn't go down well with some. "I see it as being her tip not to split with everyone he said to her (don't spend it all in one place directly to her). If he wanted everyone to have a piece of the pie, he could have given it directly to the manager," wrote one person. While many criticized the restaurant, the establishment clarified that it was the staff that decided to split the tip among themselves. 


One person said they were the recipient of a similar gesture and asked, "Wonder if he's the same person who paid my mortgage last year?" The wholesome gesture was appreciated by many. "This is proof that decent people are out there!!! In this case, far exceeding simple decency, and truly stepping up to help his community! So much respect!!! Amazing!!" wrote one person. Zarella said some of the bartenders are single mothers and the tip was a big help to them. They told him that they would use the money to take summer vacations that otherwise wouldn't have been possible. 

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