FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) – Ryan Brandt was one of two servers waiting on a party of more than 40 people at Oven and Tap in Bentonville, Arkansas on Friday.
When it came time to pay the bill, each diner left a $100 dollar tip for a collective $4,400 for the two waitresses.
“It was an incredible thing to do and to see her reaction was awesome, to see what that meant to her, the impact that it’s had on her life already,” recalled one of the diners, Grant Wise.
Wise, who owns a real estate company, said he called ahead to the restaurant and asked about the tipping policy, to make sure everything would go smoothly.
But he told Nexstar’s KNWA things did not go according to plan.
“I was told that I was going to be giving my cash over to my shift manager, and I would be taking home 20%,” said Brandt.
Brandt said the restaurant asked her to share the tip with her co-workers, something she said has never happened in the 3 1/2 years she worked at Oven and Tap.
Wise said pooling tips with those who didn’t wait on his party was not his intention. He asked the restaurant to return the gratuity and he gave the cash to Brandt outside.
Brandt said after that, she was fired, leaving her no way to cover her bills.
“It was devastating, I borrowed a significant amount for student loans. Most of them were turned off because of the pandemic but they’re turning back on in January and that’s a harsh reality,” said Brandt.
Brandt said the restaurant told her she was let go because she violated policy by telling Wise about pooling the tips.
KNWA asked Oven and Tap if that was true. They declined an interview but did provide KNWA with a statement:
“After dining, this large group of guests requested that their gratuity be given to two particular servers. We fully honored their request. Out of respect for our highly valued team members, we do not discuss the details surrounding the termination of an employee.”
Now, Wise has started an online fundraising campaign to help Brandt out.