Those who have worked in the service industry know how important tips are; they make or break your paycheck. The coronavirus pandemic has been especially difficult on these employees, many of whom had to make it work with takeout-only and limited hours for months at a time. However, one New Hampshire restaurant received a happy surprise after a year of struggle.
Stumble Inn Bar & Grill
The New Hampshire Restaurant, Stumble Inn Bar & Grill, is located in Londonderry, in between Nashua and Manchester. The eatery, east of Merrimack and Bedford and south of Concord, is one of the best restaurants in the area for a dependably tasty bite to eat. They have yummy appetizers, sandwiches, and other comfort food items, along with live music on weekends for a fun dining experience.
Servers at the New England bistro were going about their duties when a customer came in and ate a $38 meal of chili cheese dogs, a beer, pickle chips and a tequila cocktail. Restaurant owner Mike Zarella told TODAY Food that the man seemed like a regular customer enjoying his meal, up until he paid the bill.
The Incredible Tip
Zarella said "At around 3:30, he asked the bartender ... for the check. She gave it to him and walked away, and then he said to her, 'Don't spend it all in one place.'"
Since the restaurant was busy at the time, the bartender didn't immediately look at the bill. However, after the mysterious diner warned her again not to "spend it all in one place," she decided to look at the amount.
When she saw the tip of $16,000, she was utterly shocked and tried to give it back. The bartender said "Oh my god, are you kidding me? No, no, that's crazy." However, the diner said "No, I want you to have this."
The Mystery Man
Zarella said that the patron, who wishes to remain anonymous, has come in a few times since. "Last Saturday night he came in, I sat with him to talk with him for a couple of minutes. I told him that we were all uncomfortable with that kind of money, and he said no, he wanted this to happen."
The bartender, Michelle McCudden, described him as a "mystery man" to NBC Boston, adding "I've been doing this a very long time and I never thought anything like this would happen to me."
The owner of the New Hampshire restaurant decided to split the amount among the eight bartenders at the Stumble Inn Bar & Grill, giving some to kitchen workers as well. The bartenders are overjoyed at the sum of surprise money, planning trips and changing their budgets to take advantage of their extra income.
Zarella said "People that are well-deserving got a huge tip. Last week, they were worried it didn't go through, so they didn't count on it. Now they're like, 'Wow.' Some of them are single moms, now planning a vacation. They're getting good money out of it. They're really overwhelmed. They're like, 'Wow, I can go do this this summer. I didn't budget for that, now I can do that.' It's really fantastic."
The money is an especially welcome surprise after the long year, when the covid-19 pandemic caused over 110,000 restaurants and bars to close.
"It just says there's good, kindhearted people out there that realize that people might have to struggle," said Zarella. "Maybe this gentleman saw how hard it was."