Ryan Brandt Arkansas waitress fired after diners leaver her $4400 tip that she is not allowed to keep and forced to share with other restaurant workers and management.
A waitress who received a $4,400 tip from a group of diners to split between her and another server has been fired from her job after the restaurant manager forced her to share most of the money with other waiters, restaurant workers and management.
On Monday, Dec. 6, Brandt and a coworker at Oven and Tap in Bentonville, Arkansas, received the large tip, taking home $2,200 in cash each.
Business owner Grant Wise presented that massive tip to Brandt and a coworker. However, 30 minutes later, Brandt says she was told she could only keep 20% of the tip and had to split it with the rest of the Oven and Tap staff.
‘To turn right back around and find out that I wasn’t keeping it, was kind of disheartening because we don’t tip share in any way,’ Brandt told 5 News.
Wise, who owns a local real estate company, organized the ‘$100 Dinner Club’ to dine at the Bentonville restaurant earlier this month, with each member contributing a $100 tip.
Wise told KNWA he called the restaurant ahead of the outing to confirm that its servers did not share tips, and as he presented one of the waitresses, Ryan Brandt, with a check for $4,400 to split between her and another waitress who served the group, she was left in tears.
But soon after, Brandt said, restaurant managers told her she would have to split the tip with all of her co-workers – something she said they have not requested in the three and a half years she has worked there.
‘I was told that I was going to be giving my cash over to my shift manager and I would be taking home 20 percent,’ Brandt told KNWA, noting that she had never been asked to split her tip before in the three and a half years she worked there.
Brandt, who studied Spanish at the University of Arkansas, said she was ‘devastated’ at having to fork over the large tip as she had planned to use the money to help pay off her student loans.
A few days later, Wise found out that Brandt had been fired for ‘violating’ the restaurant’s rules by telling Wise about its tip policy.
Wise had come up with the idea for the ‘$100 Dinner Club’ during the pandemic, telling 5 News that he knew many servers who were struggling under COVID-related shutdowns.
He had hosted a real estate conference in Arkansas, and orchestrated the event at the Oven and Tap to pay-it-forward.
‘We knew servers were really hit hard through COVID and it was something that [a friend] had come up with to help give back,’ he told 5 News, noting that he chose the Oven and Tap because it was one of his and his wife’s favorite restaurants.
He said he had called the restaurant beforehand to confirm the restaurant did not have a policy about tip sharing or pooling tips, and when a restaurant employee confirmed that they did not have such a policy, Wise and his wife moved forward with their plan.
Should she have been fired?
They then presented Brandt, in her early 30s, with the large tip, leaving her in tears – a moment that was posted to Instagram on December 2.
Wise said he soon found out that the restaurant managers had asked Brandt to split her tip.
Wise said he tried to get in contact with the owner to ‘ensure that everything was going to be OK, but was unable to connect with her outside of a few text messages that eventually stopped.’
He then went back to Oven and Tap to get his money back and hand it to Brandt directly, outside the restaurant, he said.
But by December 7, Wise posted on social media, he had found out that Brandt was fired from her job.
‘I’m so saddened to hear that the girl we tipped the other night at our $100 Dinner Club has been fired from her job,’ he wrote on Facebook.
Stress and anxiety of working as a server
‘I don’t fully understand why this would happen to what seems like such a sweet and kind-hearted woman.
‘Nonetheless, I’m committed to showing her that there are great people in the world that will do good when they can.’
He repeated that sentiment in a video he posted on YouTube (see directly above) in which he announced that he would put together a GoFundMe for the waitress.
‘I hope that we can help this girl stay on top, and not let something like this get her down,’ he said, noting: ‘I don’t fully understand it … but I want to do as much as we can to help.’
In a statement to FOX 59, Oven and Tap officials said: ‘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.’
Wise wrote in the online fundraiser that he wanted to help Brandt ‘get through the next couple o months, and to hopefully find a new job opportunity,’ noting that he does ‘not know Ryan outside of her waiting on us in the past’ and does ‘not know what type of employee she was outside of what I personally experienced and what we’ve read from other people commenting that were her regulars.
‘My only goal is to help her get through this experience with the least amount of stress and anxiety possible and onto whatever her next opportunity may be.’
On Thursday, Wise posted an update saying Brandt was offered a job at another restaurant, and began work on December 8. He shut down the fundraiser on Saturday, after it surpassed $8,700.