Nearly two decades after he was born early in a Starbucks bathroom in suburban Chicago, 18-year-old Jonathan Celner was shocked to open his rarely-used Facebook to discover a message from the man who helped deliver him all those years ago.
Griffin Baron was 21 and working as a Starbucks shift supervisor when Celner's mother stopped at a Starbucks near the highway in Wilmette, Illinois, on her way home. She went into labor while she was there — three weeks early, Celner said — and ended up giving birth in the bathroom.
It was an experience Baron would never forget, he told TODAY Food, and he spent years wondering what became of the baby. Then, this past spring, he stumbled upon a GoFundMe for the now-teen and his older brother. They had lost their mother, Lisabeth Rohlck, years earlier and their father died recently.
Baron said he donated and looked up the Celner on Facebook. Before he decided to send him a message, he verified that the teen was the right kid and then he got "goosebumps everywhere."
"I was like, 'Oh my god,'" Baron said. "I was the barista, the day you were born, and I have always wondered, what, like, what came of you after you were born?"
The two chatted for a few minutes and decided to meet up — where else? — at the very Starbucks in Wilmette where it all went down, as first reported by The Record North Shore.
The shop itself even has a small memento from the surprise birth on the window by the door, both Celner and Baron confirmed: a sticker of a stork carrying a baby marks is a cheeky nod to Celner's arrival on Earth.
Baron told TODAY that in 2002, he'd been sitting in the back room at work eating when he heard screaming coming from the women's bathroom.
A female customer, identified in local media at the time as Tricia Monico, went in to check and discovered Rohlck giving birth.
By the time Baron got there to help — with the only thing he could think of to bring: hot towels — Celner was apparently on his way out.
"The customer's holding her hand and she's huffing and puffing ready to go and there is a baby coming up," Baron said.
"And I was like … frozen. Like, 'Here's your towels?' I don't know what's going on," he laughed. "So we're cheering her on, she's doing great, holding on to her hand, and the next thing you know, an extra person comes out of the bathroom."
It was a chaotic few minutes, Baron said, and EMTs arrived in time to cut the umbilical cord. The happy mom and son were taken to the hospital to get checked out and held a press conference there later for local news outlets — part of which even aired the following day on TODAY.
After Rohlck and Celner left, Baron said the store looked like "a complete war zone," to the point where the company had to bring in a hazmat team to clean up overnight.
In the meantime, he laughed, customers kept coming, saying, "Oh, that was crazy. Can I get a grande Frappuccino?' and I'm like, 'No! Get out! We're closed, you can't come in here!'"
Celner said he grew up knowing the chaotic way he entered the world, but his mom died when he was fairly young. Meeting Baron helped him "fill in the gaps" in the story.
"He remembers stuff like my mom was waving to like all the people as she was getting rolled out on this stretcher with me in her arms," he chuckled, adding that his mom had told him the story but didn't go "too in-depth with it."
Baron, now a father of two young kids himself, added that Celner's birth ended up being one of the most memorable moments of his life.
"I've thought about you a million times," he said, explaining that even when his own son was born, he was reminded of the first time he'd witnessed childbirth in that Starbucks bathroom. "It's bonkers. I mean like, I wanted to know more about this kid for so long and then finally I got to meet him and it was just this very exciting moment … I think about him all the time."
Despite his origin story, Celner's go-to drink at the coffee chain is usually a hot chocolate or the occasional cold brew.
"I'm not, like, super crazy about coffee, considering I was born in a Starbucks," he laughed.