Jesse Brown has worked in the restaurant business for more than a decade but he has never had a day at work like Sunday.
While serving a couple he described as “very elegant and very humble” and juggling tabletops of 10 and four, The New York native got the largest tip of his career when $1,000 was written on the tip line.
“I’m still astonished over it,” Brown said from Gulfstream Café in Garden City Beach where he has worked for the last two months. “He told me it is to help me reach my dream so I have to use it for that.”
Brown said his conversation with the couple started when the man asked about a Tequila Sunrise drink and Brown suggested the restaurant’s Sunset Martini as a better choice. The couple then accepted his recommendations for a bowl of she crab soup and the fresh catch of the day, which was Mahi Mahi.
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As they chatted, the couple told him they were moving to Florida. “We talked about God and I got very good vibes from them and they said they got good vibes from me,” Brown said.
The man then asked Brown about his dreams and Brown shared that his dream is to own and operate a bed and breakfast someday.
“He then said he was going to help me fulfill that dream,” Brown said. “I went about my business thinking in the back of my mind how was he going to do that.”
About half way through dinner, Brown said the man told him he was going to add a $1,000 tip and asked about the tip out for the kitchen, which Brown told him is set at 3 percent. When Brown presented the check for $69.74, the customer handed him $60 for the tip out and added the $1,000 on the tip line just for him.
Brown said he has gotten big tips before on large food bills but this was very different. “It’s God driven and I’ll definitely make sure I do something positive with the money,” he said.
A quiet talker, the 31-year-old is driven to accomplish his dream by learning the restaurant business inside and out.
“I started in the kitchen but I’m definitely a people person. I love talking and making sure they [the customers] get a good experience,” he said.
During high school, Brown said he worked as a salad bar attendant for Ruby Tuesday and eventually worked his way up to manager. He has also worked in maintenance and catering.
“I want to get as much wisdom and knowledge as I can. Working here for Jef [Kirk] is motivating. He’s a good boss,” Brown said.
It was to Kirk, operating partner at Gulfstream, that Brown turned to when his customer told him he was going to help him fulfill his dream by leaving the $1,000 tip.
“I said ‘Thank you very much. I’m going to get my boss.’ Because I didn’t know if I could even accept something like that,” Brown said.
Kirk said he didn’t really believe Brown at first and asked if the customer was still there. Kirk said he had never seen the couple before and they definitely were not regular customers. He said he has never had a customer leave a 999 percent tip before, adding, “it’s pretty impressive.”
Kirk noted there seems to be a trend across the nation with people “paying it forward.”
“You hear about this all over the place but to have it happen here in Myrtle Beach is definitely a nice trend,” Kirk said.
As for Brown deserving the tip, Kirk said, “He’s a good worker, a very hard worker.”
Brown said he would love to get in touch with the couple to thank them again but he will have to wait because he did not get their contact information and they are moving.
“He said he would come look me up sometime,” Brown said.
When he does, Brown said he plans to have something positive to show him.
Contact Angela Nicholas at firstname.lastname@example.org.