Server who received $10,000 tip at Benton Harbor cafe fired

A customer at a Michigan restaurant surprised the staff by leaving a $10,000 tip on his $32.43 bill. The staffers at the Mason Jar Cafe were stunned to learn of the reason behind the generous gift. 

The staff usually see tips ranging from 15% to 25%, but every once in a while, a customer will leave a much bigger one. "Typically, we'll see now and then $100 [tips]," Tim Sweeney, the manager of Mason Jar Cafe's manager in Benton Harbor told The Hill. "But not ever anything of this gratitude or magnitude."

Recently, a customer named Mark left t a $10,000 tip on his $32.43 bill, for a gratuity equaling around 30,835%.

Sweeney said he felt "absolute disbelief to begin with" before confirming the amount with the customer. "We went back and forth. I had a conversation with him. He wanted to proceed. [The waitress] was shocked."

Mark also shared the reason for his five-figure tip. 

"It was in memory of a friend who had recently passed and he was in town for the funeral," waitress Paige Mulick, who was also working that day, said. "It was just really an act of kindness that impacted so many people."

The money was split nine ways among the coworkers, who each took home a little over $1,100 each. Mulick, who recently graduated from Western Michigan University, said she plans to put her share toward student loans.

"(I'll) lower that interest every bit I can," she laughed, adding that there were "so many incredible women working that day, so many hardworking mothers ... just who deserve this."

"Every dollar counts at a job like this," Mulick continued. "We work hard. We know that some days you're going to make more and some days you're going to make less. That's just part of how it goes. But we hustle hard and I think that a lot of people deserve this."

Sweeney shared that the staffers were quite moved by the gesture. 

"Any time you can lend a hand and change somebody's life - whether it's a small act or a large act - it's very important to just keep that in the forefront, keep that top of mind. A little bit goes a long way. In this situation, a lot goes a long way."

Asked how long it takes for a restaurant like his to make $10,000 in tips alone, Sweeney laughed.

"Many, many, many months," he said.

It was last week we told you the story of a Benton Harbor waitress who received a $10,000 tip on a $32 check.

Now, a sad footnote to that upbeat story. Earlier this week, waitress Linsey Boyd was fired by her employers at the Mason Jar Cafe.

There are more questions than answers emerging from this Mason Jar mystery. There is a ton of spouting off on social media, but nobody is going on camera to talk about what happened.

When our Erika Jimenez visited the Mason Jar Cafe in Benton Harbor on Friday, there was every indication she was covering an unflagging feel-good story. After all, a customer who’d just attended a late friend’s memorial service had chosen to leave a $10,000 tip to remember his friend.

That anonymous customer asked his waitress, Linsey Boyd, to share the windfall with her co-workers — which she did.

“We’re all super grateful for it,” said Ana White, a server at the Mason Jar Cafe. “I’ve worked here for six years, and I’ve never seen, I’ve seen big tips, but I’ve never seen $10,000. So, that was very kind and nice of him to do that because, I mean, we’re all different and we all have different backgrounds, but we all are going through something different so that amount of money helped us all a lot.”

That was Friday.

Early this week, word broke on social media that Linsey Boyd had been unceremoniously canned by the owners of the Mason Jar Cafe. Those social media posts alluded to a wave of toxicity among the wait staff in the wake of the outsized tip.

WNDU 16 News Now was unable to confirm that alleged toxicity.

I talked to co-owner Jayme Cousins off-camera. She said she was limited in what she could say because this was a personnel matter. She did, however, confirm that she fired Linsey Boyd. She was adamant though that the firing had nothing to do with the tip nor, she said, did it have anything to do with what followed the tip.

The flap doesn’t appear to have hurt business at the Mason Jar Cafe. Late Wednesday morning, the parking lot was full, and guests were inside waiting to be seated.

I tracked down Linsey Boyd who emailed me late this morning telling me she “drove out of town this morning to spend time with family and get away.” She went on to say it has been a pretty rough week.

We also went to Baroda and spoke with Linsey’s former husband, Nathan Huff, who described Linsey as a great mom who is very upset right now and just taking some time away.

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