Customer leaves staggering $5,600 tip for struggling restaurant

An anonymous, generous tipper has made Christmas come early for staff at a restaurant in Ohio in the US.

The diner, known only as “Billy”, left a staggering tip for US$5,600 (A$7,400) with instructions for it to be split among the 28 hospitality workers at Souk Mediterranean Kitchen.

Owner and chef Moussa Salloukh told CNN he was brought to tears by the large tip after watching his staff struggle through a difficult year that included closing down during the Covid lockdown.

Souk Mediterranean Kitchen and a large tip left by a customer.
The staff at Souk Mediterranean Kitchen (left) each received part of the huge tip (right) just in time for Christmas. Source: Facebook

"There was a lot of tears,” Mr Salloukh said.

“Your restaurant staff becomes your family and everyone cares about each other. I've been staying out of the kitchen to give employees hours to get through, and put gifts under the tree for their kids, so this was so huge for us”.

The overwhelmed owner shared an image of the receipt on Facebook and said his staff were each gifted US$200 (A$265) to help them celebrate Christmas or pay off mounting debts.

“Normally this is a month when our employees work extra and guests tip generously. December is a month for them to earn money to buy family gifts, put a bit into savings and take care of bills or repairs that have been lingering.

“With Covid restrictions and guidelines, that was not going to happen for them this year,” Mr Salloukh wrote on the restaurant’s Facebook page earlier this month.

Mr Salloukh told CNN he had opened the restaurant on October last year and like many hospitality businesses, he was finding the Covid pandemic tough financially.

Souk Mediterranean Kitchen staff including owner and chef Moussa Salloukh
Chef and owner of Souk Mediterranean Kitchen, Moussa Salloukh (right), said his staff were doing it tough during the Covid pandemic. Source: Facebook

"The restaurant was a tribute to my mother and everything was going great until March, when we were forced to shut down. Financially there was a huge impact, but we did just about everything to survive,” Mr Salloukh said.

The chef shared that he had struggled to find a way to thank the thoughtful customer for the “amazing gesture” that had restored his faith.

“Be the reason someone believes in the goodness of people.

“The words ‘Thank You’ seem inadequate for this gift... but Thank You Billy, for your generous spirit and for making a difference in the lives of people I care a lot about this holiday season,” he wrote.

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