Generous diner offers restaurant a glimmer of hope after coronavirus lockdown.
In mid-March, the Frog & The Bull restaurant in Austin, Texas, had to close its dining area due to the coronavirus after being open for just over four months. It struggled to make ends meet by offering carry out only. Then, something incredible and unexpected happened. David Fernandez, the restaurant’s owner was shocked to receive a $1,000 tip from when of his customers.
The first day of the Frog & the Bull’s reopening, a man came in with his family, ordered what Fernandez considered to be “higher-end items” and “a couple of decent bottles of wine.” The meal cost over $300. That alone certainly helped the bottom line.
Then, when it came time to pay, the man, whom Fernandez had seen dining there a few times before, asked his server, 18-year-old Josh Pikoff, to double the total. Not knowing what to do, Pikoff asked Fernandez to come to the table to speak with the family.
“I just kind of looked at (the customer) and said, ‘Are you sure? You don’t have to do that,’” Fernandez explained. “He was like, ‘No, I’m very sure.’” Then, the owner said the man “wrote in a $300 tip for Pikoff and another $1,000 “for the house.” The total came to $2,029.
“We were pretty stoked about that. It was crazy,” Fernandez said. “I told him, ‘We’ll take very good care of you when you’re back in here, trust me. This is really nice of you.’”
Pikoff was able to bring home his portion and the rest was put towards paying down bills. Fernandez explained he was hoping their St. Patrick’s Day party would help compensate for a slow holiday season the restaurant experienced. Then, he was forced to cancel it and, instead, ask his chef to create a takeout and delivery menu. Much of the staff had to be laid off.
“When you’re starting up, that’s when you’re at your most vulnerable,” Fernandez explained. “From March 17 up until now, we’ve been fighting for our survival, just barely scraping by…I literally have been living payroll to payroll, just making enough money to pay (my employees)…so something like this helps out huge because I can start chipping away at other bills.”
On March 27, President Donald Trump signed into law the CARES Act, which includes $376 billion in relief for American workers and small businesses. Fernandez added that he’s applied for government assistance but has yet to receive the help he needs.
This month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also issued updated guidelines to employers for resuming business operations. The CDC recommends, “As an employer, if your business operations were interrupted, resuming normal or phased activities presents an opportunity to update your COVID-19 preparedness, response, and control plans. All employers should implement and update as necessary a plan that: Is specific to your workplace; identifies all areas and job tasks with potential exposures to COVID-19 and includes control measures to eliminate or reduce such exposures.” However, even if the business can reopen, it will inevitably take some time to recoup lost funds.
“This makes this man’s generosity extremely important to us,” Fernandez said. “It comes at such a good time.”