Customers at an Olive Garden in Kennewick, Washington, are treated to the usual breadsticks, salad and pasta, but when it's someone's birthday, they're also treated to something extra special: a serenade from server Alphonso Nichols.
A video of Nichols, 31, singing a soulful rendition of "Happy Birthday" to twins Hannah and Ella Haddox, who were celebrating their 17th birthdays at the restaurant last Saturday, went viral after their mother, Amy Haddox, shared the video on Facebook.
Haddox, who met her husband when they were both working as servers at an Olive Garden, said that when it was time to sing the birthday song, servers would typically "flee like rats from a sinking ship" to avoid having to publicly sing.
"When they were like. 'He is going to sing,' I was like, 'You don't have to. We're still going to give you a good tip,'" she told TODAY.
But then Nichols opened his mouth and the entire restaurant became silent and listened to his beautiful voice fill the room.
"We were so surprised!" Haddox said. She said she knew she was watching something special, so she pulled out her smartphone to capture the moment on video.
It turns out, Nichols has been singing the birthday song to customers at his Olive Garden location for nearly a year.
"I wasn’t noticing the reaction at first," he said. "But everyone was telling me the room would go silent and everyone would look over at me and watch and clap and then go back to eating."
As the chief birthday singer at Olive Garden, he said other servers will help him out by bringing out breadsticks and salads to people sitting in his section, in exchange for him serenading a customer who is celebrating their special day.
Singing has always been a part of Nichols' life. He said he grew up singing in church and entered singing competitions, taking first place every time. He dreams of pursuing music full time and is currently working on a Christian music album, which he plans to release next year.
"I have an 8-year-old son and I want him to know you should never give up on chasing your goals and dreams," he said. "I always keep myself going for that as well and make sure I sing something every day. You never know!”