Customer tips Gainesville restaurant $10,000

The average restaurant tip is 15 percent, but Tuesday was not an average night for one Gainesville restaurant. A customer convened the Wahoo Seafood Grill staff and thanked them for their hard work before tipping them a whopping $10,000.

The restaurant owner, Shawn Shepherd, said on Friday that the tip was a blessing for his hardworking staff and he still can’t believe it happened.

“Our employees at first didn’t believe it,” Shepherd said in an interview.

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“I had to check the ID vs the credit card and it matched,” he said. “We ran the card and it was approved. The next day it settled, and the next day we cut the checks to the employees.”

According to Shepherd, many of his employees have been hard hit by the pandemic. He said one single mother with an ill child who wasn’t scheduled to work that night came in when Shepherd called to see if she wanted extra hours.

“It was almost like fate,” Shepherd said. “Her daughter is in and out of the hospital and she wasn’t scheduled to work, so I called her to cover a shift. By the grace of God this happened.”

He said another employee started two weeks ago and was staying in a shelter: “He happened to be here that night, too.”

Shepherd thought it was a great gesture when the customer called the staff together and complimented them on their service and how hardworking they are during a tough time.

“He didn’t just tip the server, he tipped the entire staff,” Shepherd said, adding that night four servers, a bartender, four line cooks and a dishwasher just happened to be at the right place, and at the right time.

Shepherd said he tried to Google the customer and thinks he might be an author.

The restaurant’s marketing person encouraged Shepherd to post about the experience on Facebook and other social media and he said the story went viral.

“I posted yesterday at 5:30 p.m. and it was like a slot machine,” Shepherd said about the shares and comments. As of Friday afternoon, the post had 1,600 reactions, 249 comments and more than 1,100 shares. 

“I didn’t know what going viral meant until this,” he said.

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