An anonymous man is just one of the hundreds of regulars who visit Maple’s, a Maine coffee shop known for its handmade baked goods — and a staff who knows many of its customers by name.
But Saturday morning, this samaritan quietly asked to foot the bill for 59 people buying breakfast after he ordered his — one for each of the lives lost in the Las Vegas mass shooting on the evening of Sunday, Oct. 1.
“This is a long-time customer of mine, who I know very well. He’s just a person that does good things for other people,” Robin Ray, the owner and head baker of Maple’s, told TODAY Food. “He’s not a wealthy person but just someone who feels led to help others.”
The customer, who told the restaurant he wishes to remain anonymous, left his credit card number with the bakery, which ran a tab and charged him for the 59 diners' orders that came later that morning.
Ray said the man had recently returned from Houston, where he also helped families trying to repair houses damaged by flooding from Hurricane Harvey.
“I think he wanted to keep up that goodwill and just raise an awareness that we need to be good to each other,” she added. “He wanted to inspire people to do kind things for other people, so he took the number 59 from the number of lives that were lost in Las Vegas.”
On Oct. 1, a gunman staying in a room on the 32nd floor at the Mandalay Bay and Casino hotel opened fire on the thousands of festival attendees below. The gunman, Stephen Paddock, killed 58 people and injured nearly 500 others before killing himself.
On Oct. 7, the individuals who had their bills taken care of by the mysterious customer were also given “a little inspirational line like, ‘Your breakfast is going to be paid for to inspire you to do something kind for others,'" Ray said.
She posted the story on her business's Facebook page to share the good news, but she didn’t expect the story to attract media attention.
She said another generous customer recently paid the bills for the people behind him “up to the door” of the shop one morning. However, she said she didn't post that story because she normally isn't active on social media. But, after learning other people had taken to Facebook to describe what happened, she said she decided on Saturday to "get in the driver's seat and drive this particular story."
Ray said she appreciates her customer’s desire to keep his identity a secret and believes it has helped accentuate his deed, along with his pay-it-forward message he hopes to spread.
“It feels good to remain anonymous. I’ve done it before and I’ve been on the receiving end. Just knowing that a random person cares enough to do something nice for you? It can really resonate,” she said.
Ray also says she believe small acts of kindness can have a major impact.
“It sounds corny, but I truly believe that if you buy a cup of coffee for somebody, it could save somebody’s life,” she said.
“You’re miserable in the morning when you come in, and somebody buys that cup of coffee or has a kind word for you — maybe you’re not going to rage when you’re on the highway and traffic is backed up, because you remembered that small but significant gesture. It can positively change your day, your moment, or your life.”