An Arkansas server is claiming she was fired from her job after she disclosed the restaurant’s tipping policy to a group of patrons. Ryan Brandt was one of two workers who served a large party at the restaurant Oven & Tap in Bentonville. The group left a $4,400 tip for the pair to split, according to Grant Wise, the person who organized the dinner.
Server Told She Couldn’t Keep The Tip
“I was hosting a $100 Dinner Club where each person at dinner tipped $100 to give to the servers,” Wise said, adding that seeing the reactions of Brandt and her fellow server “was a beautiful moment.”
However, the staff members’ smiles quickly turned to frowns when they were informed they would have to split their tip with the rest of their co-workers, including those in the back of the house, like the cooks. According to Brandt, this was the first time she had ever heard of this policy in her three and a half years of working at the restaurant.
“I was told that I was going to be giving my cash over to my shift manager, and I would be taking home 20%,” she told local news outlet KNWA. Brandt turned the tip over to her manager, then reached out to Wise about the situation. He contacted the restaurant to tell them to return the money, then ended up directly giving Brandt and the other server their tip.
Why Restaurant Fired Her
The restaurant’s owners deny firing Brandt for keeping the large tip, saying, “We’re a team at Oven & Tap, and we have always participated in a tip share, but when the guest made us aware that they wanted their generous tip to only go to the servers, we immediately honored that request.”
They continued, “Oven & Tap has always been committed to providing fair and quality compensation to all members of our restaurant team,” the representative said. “Our normal ‘tip out’ policy covers other team members ensuring anyone who helps make that dining experience a success (bartenders, kitchen staff, food runners, etc.) is compensated.”
The owners also noted that pooling tips has always been the policy at the restaurant and that the server Brandt shared the $4,400 tip with is still working at Oven & Tap. Many on the internet don’t believe this, and a GoFundMe page created for Brandt is evidence of that.
Brandt’s GoFundMe Page
In the page’s description, Wise said that he called the restaurant in advance to clarify the tipping policy and was told pooling tips was not the norm – a claim the owners deny. Through a spokesperson, the owners said they usually split credit card tips among employees, but allow servers to keep their full cash tips and decide how to handle tips for large parties on a case-by-case basis. Oven & Tap’s owners have also threatened to sue Brandt for her claims, saying she has permanently damaged the restaurant’s reputation.
The GoFundMe, created by Wise to help support Brandt after her firing, has raised over $15,000. Brandt soon found another serving job, and now the money raised is going towards paying it forward to Wise’s dinner group’s next servers.
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