Ryan Brandt, an Arkansas waitress, was fired after her manager forced her to split a $4,400 tip among her coworkers.
According to Fox 59, the large tip was given on Dec. 6 at Oven and Tap in Bentonville, where waitress Ryan Brandt and another server serviced a gathering of more than 40 people.
When it came time to pay the bill, each diner gave a $100 tip to the two waiters, totaling $4,400. That was something they had planned to do, to give a kind surprise as Christmas is approaching.
“It was an incredible thing to do and to see her reaction was awesome, to see what that meant to her, the impact that it’s had on her life already,” recalled one of the diners, Grant Wise.
“We knew servers were really hit hard through COVID, and it was something that we had come up with to help give back,” he added.
However, the restaurant’s management asked Brandt to split the tip with her coworkers who didn’t serve the vast group, an arrangement she said was unprecedented in her more than three years at the restaurant.
“I was told that I was going to be giving my cash over to my shift manager, and I would be taking home 20 percent,” Brandt said.
When Wise, who owns the Witly real estate company, learned of it, he requested that the restaurant return the tip money and subsequently handed over $2,200 to Brandt.
The next day, Brandt claimed she was dismissed, as a result, leaving her unable to pay her payments.
“It was devastating, I borrowed a significant amount for student loans. Most of them were turned off because of the pandemic but they’re turning back on in January and that’s a harsh reality,” said Brandt.
“They fired me from Oven and Tap over the phone and I’ve been there for 3 1/2 years and that was really heartbreaking,” she added. “Especially because I didn’t think I did anything wrong.”
Wise launched a GoFundMe campaign for Brandt, which as of Monday morning, had raised over $8,700.
Oven and Tap also claimed that Brandt was fired for reasons unconnected to the tipping incident. They ultimately honored the generous tippers’ demands to compensate the pair of servers who served them at their party, NY Post reported.
“After dining, this large group of guests requested that their gratuity be given to two particular servers. We fully honored their request,” read the statement provided to local outlets. “Out of respect for our highly valued team members, we do not discuss the details surrounding the termination of an employee.”
“The server who was terminated several days after the group dined with us was not let go because she chose to keep the tip money,” the restaurant added. “The other two servers who received generous tips that evening from the Witly organization — including one who also received $2,200 — are still members of our team.”