Customer's $2,500 tip leaves servers in tears as Ohio announces statewide closures

The customer, who wished to remain anonymous, spent less than $30 at the eatery.
/ Source: TODAY
By Janelle Griffith

A generous customer served up a sizable tip to workers at one restaurant in Ohio on Sunday. The kind gesture happened just a short time after the governor announced all bars and restaurants will be closed as of 9 p.m. that day until further notice amid the coronavirus pandemic.

A photo of the receipt from Coaches Bar and Grill in Columbus, which shows a $29.75 tab, was uploaded to the restaurant's Twitter account on Sunday night.

"When the going gets tough, the tough stay loyal," read the tweet, which added that the "loyal, amazing patron" left the staff a $2,500 tip to help lighten the losses during the required closing of businesses in the state.

Benny Leonard, the restaurant's owner, told NBC News in a phone interview Monday that the customer who left the extra-large tip wished to remain anonymous.

"We tried to get him credit," Leonard said.

The customer, whom Leonard described as a middle-aged man, regularly attends trivia night at the restaurant each Wednesday. The man left the tip about an hour after Gov. Mike DeWine announced all bars and restaurants were being limited to takeout and delivery in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus outbreak, Leonard said.

"It's very drastic action but we're taking these steps to save lives," DeWine said Sunday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended Sunday that no gatherings with 50 people or more be held in the United States for the next eight weeks.

The customer requested on the receipt that the tip be shared among a handful of workers who he identified by name and who were on duty. The smaller group recommended to their boss that the tip be shared with all 13 restaurant employees, Leonard said. It was a sweet gesture, he added, for an indefinite and sad sendoff.

Leonard told NBC News the patron's kindness moved many on his staff to tears and put a smile on all of their faces.

"It changed things on a bad day," Leonard said.

Leonard said he opened the business more than 25 years ago and Sunday was easily the most memorable day in his career.

"Sunday was one of the wildest days since I’ve been open," he said. "I’ve been through a lot, but nothing like this."