BENTONVILLE, Ark. — More than a week ago server Ryan Brandt and a coworker received a $4,400 unexpected tip, but she didn't know that it would be her last day working at Oven and Tap in Bentonville, after working there for more than three years.
On Monday, Dec. 6, Brandt and a coworker at Oven and Tap in Bentonville received the large tip, taking home $2,200 in cash each. Former server Brandt says the last eight days have been emotional.
“I was definitely like just in shock and overwhelmed with joy and gratitude in that moment as soon as I realized what he was saying,” Brandt said.
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 said.
However, Oven and Tap officials said in a statement released that the restaurant does participate in tip sharing and that it is a common industry practice it follows.
Wise says they specifically requested Brandt and asked if they had this policy, he told 5NEWS the restaurant said no.
Brandt messaged the customers about what happened and they came back to take the money to later give it to her after work. Brandt lost her job the following Tuesday, Dec. 7.
“They fired me from Oven and Tap over the phone and I’ve been there for 3.5 years and that was really heartbreaking,” Brandt said. “Especially, because I didn’t think I did anything wrong."
Since being let go, Brandt says she is being sent multiple job opportunities and is hoping to get hired.
The restaurant says the other waitress who received the tip is still employed at the restaurant. Oven and Tap's full statement from owners Mollie Mullis and Luke Wetzel read in part:
“We commend the organization that dined with us and generously gave to our staff. They have an absolute right to tip whoever they want, and we honored that request.
Oven & Tap doesn’t deliver terminations lightly. Because we value our employees and highly respect their privacy, we never discuss personnel issues. The server who was terminated several days after the group dined with us was not let go because she chose to keep the tip money. The other two servers who received generous tips that evening from the Witly organization – including one who also received $2,200 – are still members of our team.
Oven & Tap has always been committed to providing fair and quality compensation to all members of our restaurant team. We recognize and regret that a recent incident in our restaurant could have been handled differently by reminding our team how we would be splitting any tips prior to the event, however, our policy has always been to participate in a tip pool/share with the staff. Tip sharing is a common restaurant industry practice that we follow to ensure all of our team members are adequately compensated for their hard work."