Diners leave $4,400 tip, then server is fired by Arkansas restaurant, customer says

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A server who received a $4,400 tip by a “$100 dinner club” was promptly fired by her Arkansas restaurant, one of her customers said.

The concept of the club was for each diner to leave a $100 tip as a way to pay it forward. Grant Wise, whose company hosted a real estate conference in Arkansas, orchestrated the act as he and others dined at Oven and Tap in Bentonville.

“We knew servers really hit hard through COVID and it was something that (a friend) had come up with to help give back,” Wise told KFSM.

Wise told KNWA he called the restaurant before they dined to confirm its tipping policy. One of their two servers, Ryan Brandt, was in tears when Wise informed her of their act after their meal.

Diners in Wise’s group, as well as some who contributed money online, all chipped in money to tip a total of $4,400.

Rebecca Soto, who filmed the interaction between Wise and Brandt, said it was “wonderful” to give back.

“I’m humbled to have been part of something so beautiful and generous, to bless someone else without previously knowing them,” Soto said.

But that tip led to issues with Brandt’s restaurant in northwest Arkansas.

‘Devastating,’ waitress says

Brandt said restaurant management asked her to share her tips with all of her co-workers, which she has previously not been asked to do, KNWA reported. As this was not Wise’s intention, he gave Brandt the money outside the restaurant.

The waitress was then fired “because she violated policy by telling Wise about pooling the tips,” Brandt told KNWA.

“It was devastating, I borrowed a significant amount for student loans. Most of them were turned off because of the pandemic but they’re turning back on in January and that’s a harsh reality,” said Brandt.

Wise said he was “saddened” when he learned Brandt had been fired from her job. He has started a GoFundMe to help cover her expenses.

“I don’t fully understand why this would happen to what seems like such a sweet and kind-hearted woman,” Wise said. “Nonetheless, I’m committed to showing her that there are great people in the world that will do good when they can!”

Reaction to restaurant

Oven and Tap was flooded with negative reviews on Google and Yelp after reportedly firing Brandt. The restaurant also appeared to have temporarily disabled its Facebook account.

In a statement to KNWA, Oven and Bread said it “fully honored” the group’s request that the tip be given to the two servers. It did not offer an additional comment.

Wise said in an update on the GoFundMe that Brandt was offered a job at another restaurant and began work Dec. 8.

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