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Generous customer gives Florida restaurant employees $10,000 tip for their hard work

The staff at Wahoo’s Seafood Grill in Gainesville, Florida, got the biggest tip of their lives when a customer left them one worth $10,000.

It was a slow night at the restaurant on August 17. Only 10 employees were working Tuesday night, and only two tables had customers. One of those tables sat a man, his wife, and their child.

The employees were bustling about the restaurant when the man called them together to thank them for their hard work.

Wahoo Seafood Grill store front

h/t: CBS4

Bryce Daniels, a cook at Wahoo, said that as soon as the man started speaking, he knew something interesting was about to unfold.

And he was right.

When the unnamed man went to pay for his family’s $144 bill, he left them a whopping $10,000 tip! The money was split among the 10 staff members—each of them went home $1,000 richer.

“Everybody was super grateful and, I think, just kind of taken aback by it, someone recognizing their hard work,” Zack Connelly, an employee who was working that night, told WCJB.

Connelly said he plans to hold on to the money for a little while. He said business had been slow during the summer, but he looks forward to it picking up as the Gators football season nears.

And if he ever sees the man again, he has one question.

“…If the guy who did this is watching I’d like him to come back in tell me what he does for a living,” Connelly said jokingly.

Daniels, 26, described the mystery man as rugged, heavy-set, and muscular. His wife was “pristine,” and their son was shy.

Shawn Shepherd, the owner of Wahoo, said he got a phone call around 9:15 p.m., alerting him of the generous tip. He couldn’t believe it at first, so he told his employee to check the man’s ID and the name on the back of his credit card.

Their point-of-sale system approved the transaction, and Shepherd was blown away. He checked back the next day to make sure the $10,000 was still there, and it was.

“Watching these guys get their check was almost as good as Christmas morning,” he said.

Shepherd is immensely grateful for the man’s generous act because the workers there that night were loyal employees who stuck with the restaurant during the pandemic. One of them was Ashley Green.

She was called in to work Tuesday and recently fell on difficult times when her daughter got sick.

“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 COVID-19 hit, Wahoo temporarily discontinued operations on March 28. Shepherd said he knew nothing about curbside, delivery, and takeout. They didn’t even have the containers to do it. He admitted that they “weren’t prepared for that.”

With that, he lost $30,000 worth of food.

Thankfully, the Florida Restaurant Lodging Association and the Alachua County Chamber of Commerce were there to help them find emergency funding so he could pay his staff. They re-opened in mid-May.

“And that was all great, but we had no business coming through the front door,” Shepherd said.

The restaurant owner said he’s grateful to his employees because they stuck with him even through the hard times to help the business survive.

In a Facebook post, Wahoo’s shared a picture of the customer’s receipt.

“Our whole staff would like to thank this generous customer from the bottom of our hearts. We are all going to pay it forward in our own ways. Even the smallest acts of kindness can have a giant ripple effect,” they wrote in the caption.

Getting that extra $1,000 in their paycheck is truly life-changing. We hope the Wahoo staff are able to put it to good use!

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