Customer tips $10K at Michigan restaurant, explains generous gesture before leaving

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. (WOOD) — The staff of a Michigan restaurant got the surprise of a lifetime when a customer left behind something completely unexpected.

The waitstaff at the Mason Jar Cafe in Benton Harbor usually see tips ranging from 15% to 25%. But every once in a while, a customer will leave a much bigger one.

“Typically, we’ll see every now and then $100 (tips),” manager Tim Sweeney said. “But not ever anything of this gratitude or magnitude.”

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Last Monday — Mason Jar Cafe’s slowest day of the week — a customer named Mark left a $10,000 tip on his $32.43 bill, for a gratuity equaling around 30,835%.

Sweeney said he felt “absolute disbelief to begin with” before confirming the amount with the constomer. “We went back and forth. I had a conversation with him. He wanted to proceed. [The waitress] was absolutely shocked. “

Mark also provided the staff with a reason for his five-figure tip.

“It was in memory of a friend who had recently passed and he was in town for the funeral,” waitress Paige Mulick, who was also working that day, said. “It was just really an act of kindness that impacted so many people.”

The money was split nine ways among the coworkers, who each took home a little over $1,100 each. Mulick, who recently graduated from Western Michigan University, said plans to put her share toward student loans.

“(I’ll) lower that interest every bit I can,” she laughed, adding that there were “so many incredible women working that day, so many hardworking mothers … just who really deserve this.”

“Every dollar counts at a job like this,” Mulick continued. “We work hard. We know that some days you’re going to make more and some days you’re going to make less. That’s just part of how it goes. But we hustle hard and I think that a lot of people really deserve this.”

Members of the waitstaff at Mason Jar Cafe in Benton Harbor, Michigan, took home more than $1,100 apiece in tips last Monday. (WOOD)
Members of the waitstaff at Mason Jar Cafe in Benton Harbor, Michigan, took home more than $1,100 apiece in tips last Monday. (WOOD)

Sweeney said staffers were quite moved by the gesture.

“Any time you can lend a hand and change somebody’s life — whether it’s a small act or a large act — it’s very important to just keep that in the forefront, keep that top of mind. A little bit goes a long way. In this situation, a lot goes a long way.”

Asked how long it takes for a restaurant like his to make $10,000 in tips alone, Sweeney laughed.

“Many, many, many months,” he said.

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