Restaurant tells waitress she can’t keep $2,000 tip for unusual reason

Katie Mather
·3-min read
waitress tip emily bauer
waitress tip emily bauer

A server at a restaurant in San Antonio received an early Christmas present at work, only to be told by her manager that she couldn’t keep it all.

The server, Emily Bauer, told KENS 5, a local ABC affiliate, that the incident occurred during a particularly busy Sunday at Red Hook Seafood and Bar. She said that one couple was especially sympathetic to how overworked she seemed, adding that they never complained about the service.

“I kept apologizing. ‘I’m sorry. I’m being slow.’ He was just like, ‘I understand.’ He also mentioned he owned restaurants. So he knew how hard it was to be a server,” Bauer said.

When Bauer picked up the check after they’d left, she was stunned to find that the couple had tipped her $2,000 and left a note that said, “Merry Christmas! Keep working hard!”

“I just opened [the receipt] and started crying. I was like, ‘Oh my God! My kids! I’m going to spend it all on my kids,’” Bauer said of her two boys, who are 2 years old and 5 months old. “I’ve never had a Christmas where I’ve been able to like, splurge on them.”

However, Bauer had issues processing the tip in the restaurant’s system. When she flagged the problem to her manager, she was told that servers could only receive a $500 tip at most — meaning, she couldn’t keep all the money.

“I don’t think it’s our responsibility as a server to say, ‘Oh, you can’t tip me that much, I’m sorry. Oh no, there’s a limit, I’m sorry.’ If that’s the case, there should be signs posted on the restaurants or the receipt to say there’s a limit of $500,” Bauer said. “Everybody I’ve talked to has been like, ‘I’ve never heard of that before.’ If it’s left to you and signed by that person, then you should be able to get it.”

After KENS 5 posted the story on its Facebook page, Red Hook Seafood and Bar left a long comment dubbing the story a “FALSE news report.”

Credit: KENS 5 / Facebook
Credit: KENS 5 / Facebook

Then, Bauer herself replied to Red Hook Seafood and Bar’s Facebook post with an explanation of her own.

Credit: KENS 5 / Facebook
Credit: KENS 5 / Facebook

According to an update in the initial KENS 5 article, Bauer did end up receiving all $2,000 — but it cost Red Hook Seafood and Bar some bad press.

“You, the company, responding on social media defending yourself and essentially calling your staff a liar isn’t professional whether you[‘re] right or not,” one user replied to KENS 5’s Facebook post.

“That’s so sad. Maybe the patron could contact her and hire her at one of his restaurants where she’s able to receive the tips customers leave,” another added.

“Hmmmm, but I’ll bet he can process a bill that comes up to $2K that’s going into his restaurant cash register!!!” a third wrote.

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