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Anonymous customer leaves $1,000 tip at Sioux Falls bar slowed by coronavirus outbreak

Argus Leader (Sioux Falls) logo Argus Leader (Sioux Falls) 3/22/2020 Makenzie Huber, Sioux Falls Argus Leader
a close up of a sign: A Sioux Falls man left an anonymous $1,000 tip at the Gateway Casino and Lounge on Friday afternoon during the COVID-19 outbreak. © Submitted A Sioux Falls man left an anonymous $1,000 tip at the Gateway Casino and Lounge on Friday afternoon during the COVID-19 outbreak.

The customer signed his receipt after finishing his regular order of chislic and tater tots at Gateway Casino and Lounge on Friday.

Before leaving, he handed the receipt to the manager and asked him for a favor — don't tell anyone what he just did. Then he slipped out the door during what would have normally been a Friday rush hour at the Sioux Falls restaurant. 

When the manager, Jackson Rentschler, finally looked at the receipt after the man left, he realized he had tipped $1,000 on a $13.96 bill.

The customer, who chose to stay anonymous, gifted the amount to staff because of a lack of business to the bar — a trend repeated across the city as businesses shutter their doors amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

The tip will help carry the restaurant's workers during a time of uncertainty, Rentschler said.

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The man, a local business owner who has been coming into the restaurant weekly since the early 2000s, asked Rentschler how the staff was faring during the coronavirus outbreak and how the business was impacted — the normal kind of talk with customers over the past week, Rentschler said.

"The first few questions of a conversation used to be, 'how is your team doing?" Rentschler said. "Now, it's 'how are you doing? How is everyone holding up?"

More: Coronavirus: Latest data from state shows little change, unclear how many tests run

The generous act brought a tear to Rentschler's eye, since he knew just how much the extra cash would impact his staff. It will help them feel a little more secure, since many restaurant workers across the nation are unsure when their next paycheck will come through, he said.

Rentschler and other salaried workers did not accept a portion of the tip, so the $1,000 was split equally among about 20 staff, letting them pocket $50 for the day.

But kindness isn't just reserved to one customer. Rentschler said that even though business is slower, people who do order are tipping almost twice as much as what a normal rush would bring in.

"Everyone is being more generous than they've ever been before," Rentschler said. "It really, truly shows you that Sioux Falls and South Dakota is a special place. And a lot of places all over the world you're seeing videos of people coming together and helping each other out. I think it just shows the true colors of people."

Customers are tipping larger than usual across Sioux Falls. Shenanigan's received a $100 tip one night as well, Rentschler said.

And on Saturday night, TC's Referee said in a Twitter post that a customer left a $1,450 tip.

"The kindness and generosity of our wonderful community continues to amaze us," the post read. "Our staff is extremely grateful, beyond words."

While Gateway is still open during its regular hours, the business has seen a sharp decline in orders. Rentschler said they've canceled live entertainment and reduced available seating as precautions amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

More: Map: Where in South Dakota has coronavirus been detected?

"It's stressful. You don't know what the right thing to do is. Honestly, we're trying to keep the place open so staff can pay their bills," Rentschler said. "It's a fine line."

This article originally appeared on Sioux Falls Argus Leader: Anonymous customer leaves $1,000 tip at Sioux Falls bar slowed by coronavirus outbreak

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