As the government ordered a shutdown of non-essential business because of the COVID-19 outbreak, many small businesses have taken a hit financial hit. There’s no revenue coming in, and business owners had to cut down their payroll list and lay off some of their staff. While it’s heartbreaking to do so, especially in a time like this, they have no choice but to do it. If they don’t, they might not be able to continue operating due to a lack of funding.
So when the stay-at-home order in Austin, Texas, expired on April 30, David Fernandez felt relieved. His restaurant, Frog & The Bull, had only been open for four and a half months when the business was compelled to redesign its operational structure mid-March. The diner had to close its doors to sit-down customers and figure out a way to remain in business amid the pandemic.
Finally, after weeks of waiting, the restaurant welcomed back its patrons to its dining area. David knew it would be an unforgettable day for him and his employees, but he didn’t expect that a customer’s kind gesture would make his reopening day even better.
A man and his family of five, who had eaten at the establishment before, were among the diners that day. The group ordered a big meal; they had a filet mignon, grilled steak, scallops, a couple of decent bottles of wine, and other expensive items. Once they were done, their check totaled a hefty $337. But when their server, Josh Pikoff, handed over the bill, the man asked him to double the charge.
The 18-year-old waiter felt confused; he had never received such a request. He didn’t know what to do, so he went over to David and asked him to come to the table.
“I just kind of looked at (the customer) and said, ‘Are you sure? You don’t have to do that,’” David told TODAY. “He was like, ‘No, I’m very sure.’”
As if that move wasn’t generous enough, the Good Samaritan added a $300 tip for Josh and another $1,000 “for the house.” He ended up with a total bill of $2,029.
“I was really shocked at first because I didn’t understand why he was giving it to me,” Josh told CNN about the unusual scenario. “But he said that he was extremely grateful that we were open and putting ourselves at risk to serve the community.”
David, on the other hand, was as dumbfounded as Josh.
“I didn’t really know what to say,” he told CNN. “It was extremely generous and I was just so wowed by it.”
The Iberian-inspired tapas restaurant was forced to close on St. Patrick’s Day due to coronavirus concerns. And as much as he didn’t want to, David had to lay off most of his staff. The remaining employees tried to keep the business running with a delivery and takeout menu, but it wasn’t just the same. David said they were “scraping for survival, literally from payroll to payroll.”
“We literally overnight reinvented ourselves from an upscale casual dining establishment into what I told my executive chef had to be a badass food truck without wheels,” he said.
So when establishments started reopening their doors on Friday, David was optimistic.
“We were well prepared to deal with all the advisories,” he said. “For example, we can only seat 25% max capacity so we have a very strict seating scheme that’s timed out to keep people safe.”
The money from the kind customer, who remains unknown, will help Frog & The Bull pay its bills. And while David doesn’t know much about the man, he said he’ll make sure to take care of him the next time he dines in.
“We were pretty stoked about that. It was crazy,” David said. “I told him … ‘We’ll take very good care of you when you’re back in here, trust me. This is really nice of you.’”
These past few months, many businesses have had to rely on the kindness of their patrons to survive. Lucky for David, this generous diner helped him and his staff get back on track amid these hard times!