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Arkansas Restaurant Server Fired After Receiving $2,200 Tip From Generous Customers

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Server receives $2,200

An Arkansas restaurant is in hot water after firing a server who refused to give up her $2,200 tip.

Last Monday in Bentonville, Arkansas, the Oven and Tap served a party of more than 40 patrons with only two servers to cover the entire group.

Before the group of 40 came to the establishment, however, they called in advance to ask about the tipping policy to ensure that what they were going to do after their meal would go smoothly.

Each patron planned to tip $100 to the two servers, adding to a sum of $4,400 that would be split amongst the two of them for $2,200 each.

One server was fired after receiving the $2,200 tip.

Ryan Brandt had been working at the Oven and Tap for over 3 years and was using the money she made from the job in order to help her pay off her student loans.

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That’s why when Grant Wise, owner of the software company for real estate advertising Witly, told Brandt that they would be giving her such a large tip, she was overjoyed.

“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,” Wise recalled when addressing the situation.

“I was definitely like just in shock and overwhelmed with joy and gratitude in that moment as soon as I realized what he was saying,” Brandt said.

However, things stopped going so smoothly when, 30 minutes later, Brandt was told that she would be giving the cash up to her shift manager.

The restaurant decided that Brandt would only keep 20% of the tip, and would have to split the tip she received with the entire Oven and Tap staff.

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Brandt commented that in her three and a half years of working there, that has never been the tipping policy of the restaurant, and is exactly what Wise called and asked about.

"To turn right back around and find out that I wasn’t keeping it, was kind of disheartening because we don’t tip share in any way,” Brandt said.

The customers decided to give Brandt the money outside the restaurant instead. 

When Wise found out what the shift supervisor proposed, he asked for the money back and decided to give her the money separately.

As a result, she was fired from the establishment for not following the rules they made up on the spot after trying to capitalize on her success. The restaurant were also unhappy that she had disclosed the issue to her table.

“They fired me from Oven and Tap over the phone and I’ve been there for 3.5 years and that was really heartbreaking,” Brandt said. “Especially, because I didn’t think I did anything wrong."

Wise learned about her firing and decided to help her even further by spreading her story and creating a GoFundMe which raised over $8,700 in the last week.

Since then, she has received a lot of job offers and hopes to be hired soon, while Oven and Tap owners released their statement to try and cover the criticisms.

“Oven & Tap doesn’t deliver terminations lightly. Because we value our employees and highly respect their privacy, we never discuss personnel issues,” said the statement released by owners Mollie Mullis and Luke Wetzel. 

“The server who was terminated several days after the group dined with us was not let go because she chose to keep the tip money. The other two servers who received generous tips that evening from the Witly organization – including one who also received $2,200 – are still members of our team.”

Whatever the reasoning, it seems like Wise’s generosity has paid off for Brandt who will likely use the recognition in order to find a new place to work.

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Isaac Serna-Diez is a writer who focuses on entertainment and news, social justice, and politics. Follow him on Twitter here.

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