The Frog & The Bull restaurant in Austin, Texas, had only been open for four and a half months when, in mid-March, it had to redesign its business due to the coronavirus and close its doors to sit-down customers.
That's why a diner's recent kind gesture means so much to David Fernandez, owner of the establishment, which specializes in tapas, steak and seafood.
Friday was Frog & The Bull's first day fully open since the city's coronavirus lockdown, which began on St. Patrick's Day and required the restaurant to only accept delivery and takeout orders. That night, a man came with his family of five and ordered a few "higher-end items" and "a couple of decent bottles of wine," Fernandez told TODAY. The meal cost over $300.
When it was time to pay, the man, whom Fernandez had seen at the restaurant a few times before, asked his server, 18-year-old Josh Pikoff, to double the bill. Not knowing what to do, Pikoff asked Fernandez to come to the table.
"I just kind of looked at (the customer) and said, 'Are you sure? You don't have to do that,'" Fernandez recalled. "He was like, 'No, I'm very sure.'"
When the good Samaritan got the revised bill, he wrote in a $300 tip for Pikoff and another $1,000 "for the house," according to a photo of the check. The total came to $2,029.
"We were pretty stoked about that. It was crazy," Fernandez said. "I told him ... 'We'll take very good care of you when you're back in here, trust me. This is really nice of you.'"
While Pikoff can pocket his share, the house's portion will go to paying off bills. The holidays were slow, and Fernandez was counting on a St. Patrick's Day party to help his bottom line. But instead, he had to cancel the event, ask his chef to create a takeout and delivery menu, and trim his staff down to the bare minimum.
"When you're starting up, that's when you're at your most vulnerable," Fernandez explained. "From March 17 up until now, we've been fighting for our survival, just barely scraping by ... I literally have been living payroll to payroll, just making enough money to pay (my employees) ... so something like this helps out huge because I can start chipping away at other bills."
Fernandez added that he's applied for government assistance like many other business owners but has yet to receive any help from such programs.
"This makes this man's generosity extremely important to us," he said. "It comes at such a good time."