In March, a number of cities went into lockdown, closing down industries and businesses to prevent the spread of COVID-19. With the country raring to jumpstart the economy again, establishments are opening up cautiously, with the pandemic very much on their minds. But for some people going to work during the pandemic is just another working day.
Restaurants, in particular, face a number of challenges, but are back in operation to ensure that their businesses survive and recover lost income.
Even as enterprises opened their doors to the public, the stresses brought on by the pandemic – lockdown isolation, uncertainty, and lost livelihoods and income, among others – remain apparent.
This was brought to the fore one day at The Starving Artist in Ocean Grove, New Jersey, when a patron left a wonderful, and much appreciated surprise, for the restaurant owner and staff.
A regular since 2001, the customer left staff in tears after enjoying a meal in the restaurant. Restaurant owner Arnold Teixeira shared, “The customer and his family ate their meal and left without saying a word. When the waiter serving them saw the tip, she just started crying. Then another one of my staff members saw it and started crying, too. And then I see it, and I couldn’t help but cry. It was just extremely emotional because it’s been a really difficult time for us.”
After having breakfast, the customer, who wants to remain anonymous, left a massive tip, together with a heartwarming note.
The message read, “Thank you so much for working through this tough time. We are grateful for your delicious food, warm smiles, and great atmosphere… Please know we appreciate you all very much. It wouldn’t be a good summer without the Starving Artist.”
The client left a generous tip – $1000 on a $43 bill, roughly a 2,400% tip, which he asked to be divided among the staff.
The Starving Artist is a popular establishment in Ocean Grove and just celebrated 21 years in business, having opened in June 1999. The restaurant is located in historic Day’s building, which was built in 1876 and has since been a hub of food service in the community.
Teixeira, whose family has run various restaurants over the years, took over the eatery at Day’s in 1998 and The Starving Artist has been a famous base for locals and visitors alike.
Like most business impacted by the pandemic, The Starving Artist was struggling. Teixeira shared that he wasn’t even sure that the restaurant would remain in business. But his staff showed their support by going to the restaurant and treating pandemic like its a regular working day
“Things just kept getting worse. It got to the point where I was preparing for the possibility that we might not be able to reopen again. And now we aren’t even making 50% of what we usually bring in the middle of the summer season,” he said.
The client’s gesture was definitely a welcome reprieve for the staff. Teixeira posted on Facebook: “This act of generosity and kindness goes beyond words! It was shared amongst the entire staff. The note that accompanied the check made us all cry! Thank you from the depths of our hearts.”
This act of kindness proved to be a great motivation for Teixeira and his staff who report to the restaurant as usual like a regular working day. As the restaurant has been taking the necessary steps to ensure the safety and health of both customers and staff while providing quality service, Teixeira acknowledges that it can get exhausting after a while.
The tip, however, shows that their efforts have been noticed. It lifted their spirits, and more than anything, restored their faith in humanity.