Restaurant unable to process Texas server’s ‘invalid’ $2K tip changes course, will honor gratuity

SAN ANTONIO — Update 6:43 p.m. ET Dec. 3: A San Antonio restaurant caught in the middle of a “misunderstanding” over a lavish tip left for a server over the weekend has decided, in the spirit of giving, to honor the gratuity.

“It’s Christmastime, and everybody is struggling. I’m ready to give it to her as a Christmas gift,” John Cheng, owner of Red Hook Seafood and Bar in San Antonio, confirmed to KENS on Thursday.

The saga began when an unidentified customer dining with his wife left Red Hook server Emily Bauer a $2,000 tip on a bill totaling less than $70, with a note reading, “Merry Christmas! Keep working hard!”

Cheng explained to the TV station that the restaurant tried multiple times to process the tip, but each attempt was deemed invalid.

The restaurant’s general manager, who preferred not to be named, told KENS that the amount appeared to trigger a fraud alert with the man’s credit card company, preventing the transaction from being processed.

“If I put a $2,000 dollar tip on mine? My bank is going to deny it. They’re going to deny it because I do not normally do that; I do not normally tip that way,” the general manager said.

Attempts to find the mystery tipper have been unsuccessful, though he did call to check on the status of the server’s tip and was asked by the general manager to return to the restaurant and help sort out the problem. The man allegedly said, “OK,” before hanging up, but he has not yet returned to Red Hook.

That’s when Cheng decided to honor the gesture and write a check to Bauer for $2,069.01, reflecting the tip amount plus the cost of original tab.

Bauer also called the situation a misunderstanding and apologized for the publicity the incident created.

“The fact that the owner of my job is willing to give it to me, even though it wasn’t his mess-up, I can’t thank him enough for that,” a tearful Bauer told KENS.

Original story: A Texas server is searching for an anonymous benefactor who left her a $2,000 tip on Sunday that her employer has refused to honor.

Emily Bauer told KVUE that the man and his wife dined in her section at Red Hook Seafood and Bar in San Antonio but left without their complete order because the restaurant was slammed.

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When she looked at the couple’s receipt a short while later, Bauer said the man, who had told her that he owned restaurants, left the generous tip and a note reading, “Merry Christmas! Keep working hard!”

“I was like, ‘Wait.’ I just opened it and started crying. I was like, ‘Oh my God! My kids! I’m going to spend it all on my kids,’” Bauer told the TV station, adding that her sons are 2 years old and 5 months old, and she’s “never had a Christmas where I’ve been able to splurge on them.”

The restaurant’s point-of-sale system would not allow her to process the tip, however, and Bauer’s manager told her the tip limit is $500.

Her co-workers suggested the restaurant cash out the tip in four separate $500 payments, but Bauer said management refused.

According to KVUE, Bauer said her manager told her the man who left the tip contacted the restaurant and was “disappointed that she couldn’t take it,” but when Bauer asked for his name, so she could contact him directly, the manager said he did not write it down. She is hopeful, however, that posting a plea on her social media accounts might ultimately lead the man to read how grateful she is for his gesture.

“Even though I can’t receive it, thank you. Thank you for having such a big heart. This world is filled with messed up people. It’s like, how did he know I needed that?” Bauer told the TV station.

However, the restaurant’s management has refuted Bauer’s account of events as incomplete in a comment posted to a social media share of the server’s story by KENS.

“The tip was tried multiple times by management, by Emily, by the owner and would not post. It was INVALID,” the comment reads in part, confirming that the man did call the restaurant and that they asked him to return in person and rectify the situation with Bauer.

According to the restaurant’s account of events, the man said, “OK,” but has not reappeared at the establishment.

“By now the gentleman has seen his bank statement from Red Hook without a $2,000 tip applied. So where is this Gentleman,” the comment read.