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Waitress fired after receiving massive tip

CBS News logo CBS News 12/14/2021 Caitlin O'Kane
untitled-1.jpg © Rebecca Soto untitled-1.jpg

Last week, two servers at a Bentonville, Arkansas restaurant got a shocking gift from their customer. Grant Wise, a business owner dining at Oven and Tap, tipped his two servers a whopping $4,400 – way over the standard 20%.

Ryan Brandt thought she would take home $2,200 in cash after splitting it with her coworker. "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 told CBS affiliate KFSM.

In an Instagram post, one of Wise's coworkers explained they were having a conference at the restaurant and each person chipped in $100 for the tip. The video shows Wise presenting the tip to an emotional Brandt.

Thirty minutes after receiving the generous tip, Brandt said, her boss said she could only keep 20%. "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," said Brandt, who has worked at the restaurant for more than three years.

She was told the rest of the tip would be shared with the the staff. Oven and Tap owners Mollie Mullis and Luke Wetzel said in a statement that the restaurant shares tips, which is a common industry practice, according to KFSM. 

"We commend the organization that dined with us and generously gave to our staff. They have an absolute right to tip whoever they want, and we honored that request," the owners said in a statement. 


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Wise, who requested Brandt as his party's server, said he asked the restaurant if they followed a tip splitting policy. He told KFSM they said no. 

Brandt messaged her customers after her tip was taken from her and they came to take back their money, she told KFSM. They gave Brandt her tip after work, but even so, she suffered a loss: She was fired from Oven and Tap. 

In their statement, the restaurant said the server "was not let go because she chose to keep the tip money. The other two servers who received generous tips that evening remain members of our team."

"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."

Mullis and Wetzel said they regret that the incident "could have been handled differently by reminding our team how we would be splitting any tips prior to the event, however, our policy has always been to participate in a tip pool/share with the staff."

They said they don't deliver terminations lightly and that the other servers who also worked at the party with Brandt are still employed at Oven and Tap.

In a statement to CBS News, a representative for the restaurant said: "Because we feel the entire staff worked so hard that night to serve a large party of 32 people, we distributed approximately $7,000 in additional compensation to the rest of the team from that evening's shift to ensure they know their hard work is appreciated as well."

When asked, they did not specify why Brandt was fired.

Brandt said she has been sent several job opportunities since being fired. CBS News has reached out to her and is awaiting response. 

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