When it comes to dining out, a 20% tip is common and a 20-cent tip, like the one NFL star LeSean McCoy infamously left for a Philadelphia server in 2014, is downright rude.
But how about a tip of more than 2,000%?
One bartender at the Belgian Cafe knows the feeling after receiving $1,000 on top of a $47 bill on Tuesday.
“I was shocked,” said Lisa Sloat, who has been bartending at the Fairmount watering hole for more than a decade. “From the bartender point of view, it’s impolite to look at slips before people leave. But I did look, and I said, ‘Are you kidding me?’”
The tip, Sloat said, came from a regular who is a Comcast executive and wishes to remain anonymous. He and a co-worker made a trip to the bar on Tuesday, and ordered a couple of martinis and some wine.
The pair, Sloat said, had seen a note on the bar’s door announcing that it would close for a few months starting on Sept. 8 before re-opening as the Ambassador, as The Inquirer reported this week. Sloat’s last shift at the bar will be next Friday.
“He said, ‘We have been coming here for years, and you’ve been so nice and you always take care of me. You don’t know how special that is,’” Sloat said, adding that she went around the bar and gave the customer a hug.
That big of a tip, Sloat said, was a relief, considering that she is facing a bout of unemployment. While she looks for regular work (Belgian Cafe owner Fergus Carey says Sloat is a “fantastic employee”), the extra $1,000 will help make ends meet. Especially considering that health problems over the summer left her with medical debt.
“The only trips I have taken have been the emergency room,” Sloat, who is in her 50s, said. “He didn’t even know how much I could use [the money] at this point. I don’t have to worry as much as I thought I had to worry.”
Sloat will be able to take at least one leisure trip this summer. After word of the story spread, an executive at the Borgata in Atlantic City reached out with a complimentary two-night stay, as well as dinner at the hotel’s Michael Symon restaurant, Angeline, Sloat said.
“I’m looking forward to going to the beach,” she added.
The $1,000 tip is the biggest Sloat has received in decades of working in the bar business in Philadelphia (past spots have included the Sam Adams Brewhouse and Khyber Pass Pub). Even working large events hasn’t earned her as much.