Local networking group surprises restaurant servers with thousand dollar tips

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Published: Dec. 14, 2022 at 6:34 PM EST

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - A busy restaurant, a hard-working server, and a group of generous professionals: add it all up, and it was the perfect recipe for some holiday cheer at Cafe Strudel in Lexington.

On any normal day, the popular diner is packed with hungry customers.

In the midst of it all, Amanda Olivo, a server at the restaurant, races from table to table, making sure everyone is served, and every need is met.

On Tuesday, a local group of networking professionals with BNI International sat in Olivo’s section for lunch.

But they were there for much more than a meal. They were there to give their server a gift she won’t soon forget.

Olivo has worked as a server at Cafe Strudel for the past two years, through the tail end of the COVID-19 pandemic.

And while the pandemic forced many servers out of the industry, she’s survived, working long shifts, and

hustling to make ends meet.

Her boss, Trip Turbyfill, co-owner of Cafe Strudel, says almost everyone in the service industry feels the strain.

“We had a cook call in an hour late. We had a server out, and a manager out. But the table would never know it.”

“The thing is you never know what people are going through. So be kind to everybody.”

With that in mind, as lunch wrapped up, the check arrived, and the purpose behind this group’s visit became abundantly clear.

The 10 diners secretly pooled their money, 100 dollars apiece, then handed Amanda… 1100 dollars along with the bill and told her to keep the change.

Amanda was stunned.

“Thank you! I feel like I’m going to cry. Can I hug you?” she asked.

The customer who handed her the cash replied, “You can hug me all you want!”

As she made her way around the table, hugging each person who contributed, she was clearly moved by the group’s generosity.

BNI Southeast will give 1000 dollar gratuity to servers at 13 similar surprise events this holiday season in the Midlands.

They hope their acts of kindness and generosity will spark a chain reaction of giving in our community.

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