A server working at Oven and Tap restaurant in Bentonville, Arkansas, was fired after she received a tip totalling $4,400 from a group of business professionals who wanted to pay it forward for hardworking people during the holiday season.
Grant Wise–who is the president and founder of the software company, Witly–hosted a real estate conference at the restaurant and orchestrated the “$100 dinner club.”
The philanthropic concept of the club involved each diner of the party giving a $100 tip for their server.
Donations were also made online.
Ryan Brandt, who was one of the servers waiting on the party of about 40 people, was captured on video getting emotional after learning she and a coworker received a tip totalling $4,400.
“To be able to stand right there, next to her and let her know what people, that she had no clue who they were, from out of the country had done, it was an amazing, amazing feeling,” said Wise.
You can watch the video of the news report, here.
Rebecca Soto, a realtor who was there that night, captured the emotional interaction between Wise and Brandt.
“He wanted to kind of put our efforts together and bless someone in the community for this holiday season," she said of Wise
Soto, who with her partner Josue Soto contributed to the dinner club tip, 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."
However, according to Yahoo News, the tip led to complications resulting in Brandt being promptly fired.
Wise had previously contacted the establishment about the tipping policy to ensure there would be no issues.
Brandt said the restaurant management asked her to share her tip amongst all of her co-workers.
But because this was not Wise's intention, he gave Brandt the cash outside of the restaurant.
She told KNWA she was let go “because she violated policy by telling Wise about pooling the tips.”
“It was devastating," said Brandt.
"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."
The restaurant's decision was met with backlash online.
People demanded a boycott and social media users left a slew of negative reviews for the Oven and Tap location on Google and Yelp.
The restaurant temporarily disabled their Facebook account, according to Yahoo News.
Oven and Tap declined an interview with KNWA but provided the following statement:
"After dining, this large group of guests requested that their gratuity be given to two particular servers. We fully honored their request."
"Out of respect for our highly valued team members, we do not discuss the details surrounding the termination of an employee.”
When Wise found out about the unplanned turn of events, he said he was "saddened" over the news and started a GoFundMe for Brandt.
“I don’t fully understand why this would happen to what seems like such a sweet and kind-hearted woman,” Wise said.
"I think it's incredibly unfortunate, especially this close to the holidays with everything going on."
“Nonetheless, I’m committed to showing her that there are great people in the world that will do good when they can!”
In an update, Wise said Brandt started a new job at another restaurant on December 8.