Waiter Scores $5,000 Tip On $26.95 Bill

Waiting tables can sometimes be a thankless slog, especially if diners choose to go light on the tip. But a waiter at a Houston restaurant is reaping the rewards of years of good service after a pair of loyal customers left him with a $5,000 tip for a bill that had only totaled $26.95.

But this wasn’t someone making a decimal error — or even some well-heeled NFL star showing his gratitude.

Instead, the couple — regular eaters at the restaurant who wish to remain anonymous — had heard that the waiter had been left car-less by recent thunderstorms. So they decided to help him out with the huge cash tip.

On Saturday, the couple were eating at the restaurant when they called the waiter over, handed him the wad of bills and told him, “Go by yourself a car.”

No word on whether or not the waiter shared the tip with the rest of that night’s servers.

Houston waiter gets $5,000 tip at D’Amico’s in Rice Village [29-95.com]


Edit Your Comment

  1. That guy. says:

    Wow, that makes my $5 tip for a pizza delivery this weekend seem kinda weak.

    • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

      Why? If the pizza was delivered, there’s a good chance the driver has a car.

  2. GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

    I’d check those bills to see if they were counterfeit. It happened to Ralph Kramden.

  3. FatLynn says:

    Wait, is he supposed to share it with the rest of that night’s servers?

    I’ve never worked a service job, so I don’t know the protocol.

    • crispyduck13 says:

      Some restaurants make their servers ‘pool’ tips, then divide the take into equal cuts at the end of the shift. Back in my waitressing days I wouldn’t touch a place like that with a ten foot pole.

      • HogwartsProfessor says:

        The only place like that I ever worked paid by the hour, so the tips were just gravy. If that were the case, I wouldn’t have worked their either.

      • gttim says:

        I believe that is pretty common now. I avoided working at places like that as well, although I usually tended bar. You always ended up with a few people not doing any work.

    • Rachacha says:

      Typically you give a percentage to the bartenders and a percentage to the bussers (especially if they turned over your tables super fast which allowed you to get more people sitting in your section).

      • Doubting thomas says:

        that is generally a percentage of sales, not tips. If it was a percentage of tips many waiters would never admit to receiving a cash tip at all. S he would still have to tip out about 3% on the $26.95

  4. MrMagoo is usually sarcastic says:

    Can he count this as a gift on his taxes, or will he have to pay income tax on it?

    • FatLynn says:

      $5000 is small enough to be a gift.

      • RandomHookup says:

        Except it came as a tip, so he’s on the hook for taxes. If they had given it to him as a gift outside the employment setting, then no taxes.

        • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

          he might need a really good tax lawyer but it sounds like he might not have to call it a tip

          “So they went to the restaurant on Saturday specifically to give Rubar the money.”
          “the couple was finishing a meal of soup and wine when Rubar arrived to work. “

          clearly, someone else was serving them their meal. if he hadn’t clocked in yet….

          • AcctbyDay says:

            He wouldn’t need a tax lawyer, just a statement of intent from the couple giving/tipping. If they don’t indicate it was a gift then he has to pay tax. Intent is the key. A tax lawyer would only be needed upon audit and usually you have to pay a retainer to keep a decent one. That would cost you what the taxes would be on the 5k.

          • RandomHookup says:

            If that’s the case, then he’s probably fine. I was working off the “tip” language of the post (and I could imagine a couple not thinking through the implications of a tip vs. a gift).

          • menty666 says:

            Tax lawyer would want a $5k retainer, problem solved. muahahahaha

        • AcctbyDay says:

          Precisely. Whether or not it was intended as a gift is very important. If they meant to actually tip him 5k then hes screwed. I would ask for a letter saying it was a gift (they are frequent customers, so it shouldn’t be a hassle). Otherwise he would have to report the tips to his employer and they would take approx 300 in payroll taxes out of his checks which would most likely cause him to owe the employer money. Furthermore, he would have to pay income taxes on it which would cost him based on his marginal rate. Their gift if handled improperly could very well F*CK him mightily.

      • Bsamm09 says:

        The amount doesn’t determine if it was a gift or not. The key words are “donative intent”.

      • Paladin_11 says:

        Actually, it wasn’t a tip. They had their meal and the person they gave the money to came in to start his shift before they finished, so clearly they had a different server. They called this guy over and handed him the money. That makes it a gift.

  5. AcctbyDay says:

    I sure hope he intends to *buy* a car and not by one.

  6. CommonSense(ಠ_ಠ) says:

    Why would she share?
    The tip was meant only for 1 server to go buy a car.

    Also, no restaraunt shares tips between servers, but servers usually share a small % with hostesses and busser. In this case she should just give the usual amount to the hostess and busser and go buy a car.

    • larrymac thinks testing should have occurred says:

      You’ve never worked in a place with pooled tips, I gather.

      • CommonSense(ಠ_ಠ) says:

        I only worked in restaraunts. They never pooled servers tips.
        When you work a tippable position you keep your tips.
        Those that work for at least minimum wage like hostesses and bussers pool their tips.

        Never worked a strip club or where ever you guys worked that pooled tips.

        • larrymac thinks testing should have occurred says:

          You know “common sense” would dictate that when several people have indicated that they’ve worked IN RESTAURANTS where pooled tips were the norm, you’d back down and say “perhaps my personal experience does not dictate how the world works”.

          But obviously somebody who has to call him/herself “common sense” doesn’t have a lick of same.

          TL;DR – stop being a jerk.

        • tbax929 says:

          I worked as a bartender at several places where tips were pooled, none of which were strip clubs. You’re just flat-out wrong on this one, pal.

    • regis-s says:

      When did that happen? We sure pooled our tips back in the ’70s when I worked in a diningroom.

      If it happened to a coworker of mine I’d like to think I’d be happy if they kicked in $100. Just so everyone could benefit a little.

      Money makes people go crazy sometimes. I can certainly see some people expecting to get their full share.

      • CommonSense(ಠ_ಠ) says:

        But the customer specifically gave them money to get a car.
        Why should he give you anything which means less money for a car??
        If he gave you money it would be against what the customer wanted.

        • regis-s says:

          I never said he had to or should give me anything. I said it would be nice if he did. There is a difference.

          I guess it’s a moot point though. According to you, nobody in the restaurant business pools tips. Despite the people that claim they do/did.

    • Doubting thomas says:

      wrong again. You really need to work on that. Many many restaurants pool tips amongst servers.

      • YouDidWhatNow? says:

        Yup. Which is why good servers always hate the bad servers that get no tips themselves, but just suck their “share” out of the pool at the end of the night…having done nothing to earn it.

        • CommonSense(ಠ_ಠ) says:

          If you have to pay your tips to the company who then redistributes them as a bonus then they are no longer tipped.
          No company would do this as then the position is no longer a tippable position.

          I worked in restaraunts for years. Servers never, ever tipped pooled except for wedding receptions and banquets where multiple servers work the same check.

      • CommonSense(ಠ_ಠ) says:

        Nope, I worked in restaraunts for years.
        They never tip pool between servers (except for banquets like for wedding reception).
        Each server just puts in a small % for the hostess and busser.

        Servers always keep the rest of their tips for themselves.

        • Chmeeee says:

          So because you never worked in a place where tips are pooled, that means that such a place does not exist on planet Earth? I like your logic.

          • CommonSense(ಠ_ಠ) says:

            It cant even be legal to pool tips.
            That means the company gets the tips and pays it out evenly as a bonus to employees.
            That means none of the servers would work in a tippable position.

            Hostess and bussers get pooled tips, but they make at least minimum wage.
            Servers do not get pulled tips. They keep what they get so they get paid less than minimum wage.

            I never worked at a crappy restaraunt so I guess that is why I never had tip pooling.

        • minjche says:

          I’ve worked in and eaten in restaurants where tips are pooled among servers in exactly the way you’ve described that they are never pooled.

          You would be well served to realize that your own, and apparently highly limited, personal experience is not universal and absolute.

        • jumpycore says:

          maybe in your state they don’t. but in Nevada any service industry has to pool their tips and share it with the staff.

  7. dolemite says:

    I’d imagine if he shared, he’d have no where near enough for a car. Plus, they gave it to him specifically. I’d share 15% of the food bill with the rest of the staff and keep $4995.96 for myself.

  8. MacUser1986 says:

    Be nice if something like that happened to me once, I’m about to be homeless. :/

    • nicless says:

      If you used a PC, the whole thing would have cleared itself up ages ago.

      Humor aside, hope things work out for you.

      • MacUser1986 says:

        Pretty sick humor if you ask me, what would me using a Mac have anything to do with anything?

  9. bhr says:

    I had a group of regulars when I waited tables that I adored. Always bought drinks, wine, ect. and tipped very well.

    They usually came with as larger group, but when it was just the older couple they would linger and chat. Eventually I knew the names of their kids, when they went on vacation, how long they had been together, ect…

    Long story short, when I decided to quit to go back to school they knew it, and gave me a coffee mug and a tshirt from the school on my last day. when I got home and pulled the shirt out to pack it I found a pair of $100 bills pinned to the label with a note not to waste it on books.

    I know this is a meaningless story, but sometimes people have more money than they need and don’t mind showing people they care about them.

    • FatLynn says:

      No, it’s a sweet story, and it’s nice that you shared it with all of us old cynics around here.

    • Straspey says:

      Your story is not meaningless at all — in fact, it’s very wonderful.

      And – Because you still remember those people and their act of kindness — and because you felt strongly enough to post it here — I would venture to guess that someday, when you are in the same position, you will pass on that act of kindness to somebody else (if you haven’t already done so).

      I have been the recipient of this type of kindness on a number of occasions – and always think of that when the opportunity for me to be on the giving end presents itself…even if it’s in smaller ways.

    • Hi_Hello says:


    • BBBB says:

      As many posters have pointed out, regular customers build relationships with the staff of restaurants. In one place I am a regular I’ve watched the owner’s son grow up (some years it was just stories from the owner) – now the son runs the place half the time.

      At another restaurant I frequented, the owner invited twenty regulars to his wedding – his father (who had taught him the business), catered the wedding. These regulars (myself included) would tip generously when they knew the restaurant was struggling. I even spent an hour one evening helping the owner peel potatoes for the next morning’s hashbrowns so he could get to bed a little earlier. Many regulars would help out when it was busy – the most common thing was getting their own coffee refills and refilling all the other cups in the place while they had the pot.

      And to bring it back to the original topic, I once tipped the owner of a restaurant (who was the waitress half the time) a lithograph that cost about $150 (on about a $50 dinner bill) – it went perfectly with the decor and the owner was delighted. I wasn’t tipping for the meal; it was a “thank you” for years of great hospitality.

  10. Ed says:
  11. PBallRaven says:

    But his workplace has a rule that all tips must be pooled, so that 5000 got divided up amongst 15 other servers & busboys & bartenders. /s

    (Yeah, I worked as a waiter before and we had that rule and I hated it w/ a passion)

    • coffee100 says:

      Yeah, well you know. Nothing good can ever be allowed to happen to a regular employee, so the boss steals their money.

      And if the boss don’t, the bank or landlord will.

  12. sixsevenco says:

    Isn’t this an 18553% tip?

    • UberGeek says:

      We’re slackin’ today. It took WAY too long to math-check The Consumerist. Thank you for putting a stop to our incompetence on this article.

  13. Jack T Ripper says:

    I was reading the required posters in my office the other day. Even if you are a waiter getting tips, you have to guarantee that the employee makes at least minimum wage. They might pay the servers $2 per hour, but they are making up the other five or six bucks an hour in tips. So they are actually equally or better paid than your average Burger King worker who doesn’t count on tips. So stop complaining about the terrible pay of waiters and waitresses. If you want better pay, then get a better job. I don’t bitch about my salary. If I want more money then I need more education and more experience. I’m soooooo sorry that the servers of this world don’t understand that, but that is the way it is.

    If you are an awesome person then I’ll leave you a tip, but you damn well better be doing more than your job description to get that. I see absolutely no reason to give you money for doing your job. That is why I paid for the food you served me instead of making it myself. I have no reason to give you pity money just because you choose to work somewhere that doesn’t pay you well. Nobody tips me when I go above and beyond at work and provide service beyond my job description. Nobody pays me more just because I comment on how cute their kids are or because I’ve got a great personality. If you want a job that pays better, then get a job that requires you to work a little harder and know a little more. Until then, keep your hands in your pockets and out of my face until you learn how to remember that I told you five times not to put ice in my drink.

    • Chmeeee says:

      You sound like a fun person.

    • Kisses4Katie says:

      Working as a waitress for several years, I knew a lot of the servers had bachelor’s degrees and simply could not find a job, I myself included. It is wrong for you to assume that all servers are uneducated and ignorant.
      Also, the hourly wage can be slightly higher than most minimum wage jobs, but a lot of times people do not tip well regardless of how the service is. Several nights I went home having earned less than minimum wage (2.15 an hour for 6-8 hours, plus 18-30 in tips on average nights. Too many servers, not enough tables.) and many times the employer will not make up for it. The last problem you, having not worked in the industry, would not know, is that 2-3 hours of each servers shift is spent doing something called side work. It is work that is done in the kitchen, or getting ready for dinner/lunch service. Rolling silverware, setting tables, prepping food, mixing dressings, ‘mating’ ketchup, and basic janitorial services are all done and paid the same rate (at the time I worked, 2.15 and hour, now up to 4.14 an hour I believe.)
      Until one has worked in the industry (retail, food service, sales) one does not know how they work and what kind of effort is really involved. These jobs are usually low-paying, high-labor, and completely unappreciated.

    • coffee100 says:


  14. RiverStyX says:

    What tip? I didn’t get a tip, they stiffed me on the check and pulled a dine-n-dash. What a bunch of jerks, can you believe the nerve of some people?

    ^ What the IRS and the other staff would hear from me.

  15. WhenPigsFly says:

    Were they Enron execs??

  16. eezy-peezy says:

    sounds like the dry-begging finally paid off.

  17. texanman says:

    Loving “that go by yourself a car” line… Might want to go fix that

    • bubblegoose says:

      Sounds like a Pennsylvania Dutch phrase, kind of like “Throw the baby down the steps a blanket” or “throw the cow over the fence some hay”.

  18. Budala says:

    ‘Go buy yourself a car’ like a car is a necessity that the waiter can’t live without.

    Bet the same folks stiffed the waiter on tips for a long time and started to feel bad.

    • VintageLydia says:

      It depends on where he lives. I have friends and family that live in the sticks with absolutely no public transportation. It’s twenty-thirty minutes by car to the closest basic grocery store and if you need clothes or want to go to a restaurant fancier than Dairy Queen, it’s more than an hour. Not saying this server lives in an area like that but many many people do, probably almost half the country.

      Hell, even in the city I grew up in, the public transportation was so bad an so unreliable that a car was still damn near necessary.

  19. voogru says:

    Hey folks,

    If someone gives you a large cash tip, don’t tell anybody. Thank yourself later

  20. yesteraeon says:

    That’s actually an 18,552% tip. C’mon consumerist, who are you Comcast?

    • Crank says:

      You’re too picky. Math is fun when you whimsically move the decimal, creating a two orders of magnitude error.

  21. frodolives35 says:

    Sometimes people can be awesome.

  22. makoto says:

    Didn’t the last time we heard about a tip like this it was false after consumerist said it was true? Just asking….

  23. bwcbwc says:

    …followed closely by the DEA who will seize it as drug money.

  24. travel_nut says:

    Buy. BUY. Not ‘by’.

    Good God, Consumerist.

  25. 2 Replies says:

    Tipper would have done well by himself to spend $10 of that to “by” himself a dictionary. :-/