A restaurant server in Morristown, New Jersey, has been given nearly $2,000 in donations after a customer didn't leave a tip and complained about the establishment's COVID-19 policies.
The Glenbrook Brewery opened in late February, amid the pandemic. The state of New Jersey allows for 50% seating capacity, and the restaurant uses other measures, including a QR code for digital menus, to keep customers safe. The brewery also limits all seatings to 90 minutes or less so that they can turn over tables and seat as many customers as possible.
Glenbrook's creative director Darren Cregan told TODAY Food that on April 2, the server, who has been identified as Beth, approached the table of four after they'd been seated for about 80 minutes to let them know that their time was almost up. Head brewer Heath Traver said that the policy is prominently posted, including online, at the door and on signs on each table.
The table paid their bill but didn't add any tip, blaming the restaurant's policy.
"I'm sorry the server gets screwed on this," wrote one of the diners on the $86 bill. "Don't kick paying customers out after 90 mins."
Cregan told TODAY the customer was "really irritated" as they departed.
"Our (taproom manager) said, 'Did you enjoy yourself?' and (the customer) said, 'Yes,' the manager asked 'Was the beer good?' 'Yes.' 'Was the service good?' 'Yes.' But he still chose to leave zero tip," Cregan said.
Traver also said that Beth is a nurse who is working a second job at the brewery to put herself through a doctoral program.
"She's working towards that, she's really hard worker and a sweet girl," Traver said. "It hurt a little extra because she's outstanding."
While the restaurant "didn't intend" for the incident to become public, according to Traver, it quickly garnered traction in a local Facebook group, the Morristown Stimulus Plan, where residents can learn about and support new local restaurants.
"All of a sudden it started snowballing and now, here we are," Traver said.
People in the Facebook group began donating to Beth. Traver and Cregan said that at last count, the donations totaled around $1,700.
"It's very heartwarming to see so many people come out in support of her and her efforts," said Traver. He said that right now, Beth plans to "put the (money) back into the community," taking just some of the money for herself. Some of the remaining funds will be split with other servers who work at the restaurant, and Beth also aims to help health care workers.
While the brewery doesn't have any concrete plans yet, they're currently considering ordering from local restaurants to have meals delivered to local first responders or health care workers.
"We're thankful we have so much support from the community," said Traver.