Scroogey restaurant tries to withhold server’s $2,000 tip [Updated]

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Masked server places water glasses on patron table
Photo: Alexi Rosenfeld (Getty Images)

Update, December 4, 2020: Red Hook Seafood is now speaking out, claiming that the initial tip kerfuffle was due to an issue with the customer’s possibly fraudulent card. Restaurant owner John Cheng spoke with San Antonio news station KENS 5 after the initial story aired, explaining that Red Hook management had in fact tried to process the tip several times.

“It’s like the bank telling you like, ‘Oh, it’s fraud. We’re not going to do it,’” explained the restaurant’s general manager, who wished to remain anonymous. “If I put a $2,000 dollar tip on mine? My bank is going to deny it. They’re going to deny it. They’re going to deny it because I do not normally do that; I do not normally tip that way.” Red Hook went so far as to post a photo of the man who left the tip on social media, claiming that they’d like to pursue legal action against him.


Original post, December 3, 2020: The holidays have a way of bringing out the best—and the worst—in people. A Texas server experienced a bit of holiday cheer whiplash earlier this week when she received a $2,000 tip—only to have her employer refuse to process the payment.

San Antonio news station KENS 5 reported that server Emily Bauer was having a particularly grueling day at Red Hook Seafood and Bar last Sunday when a customer leftt the tip. “I kept apologizing. ‘I’m sorry. I’m being slow.’ He was just like, ‘I understand’,” Bauer told KENS 5. After the customer left, Bauer saw the $2,000 gratuity along with a message that read: “Merry Christmas! Keep working hard!”


“I just opened it and started crying. I was like ‘oh my god! My kids! I’m going to spend it all on my kids,’” said Bauer, a mother of two. “I was like oh my god. I’ve never had a Christmas where I’ve been able to like splurge on them.”

Unfortunately, Bauer’s manager reportedly told her the restaurant could not process any payments over $500. Bauer was a newcomer to the Red Hook Seafood and Bar family, so other employees suggested that her manager pay out the tip in four payments of $500. According to Bauer, Red Hook management refused—even though the customer who left the bill reportedly called and expressed disappointment at the restaurant’s treatment of Bauer. The good news: proving once and for all that peer pressure works, KENS 5 reported that the restaurant has, in fact, paid out the full amount to Bauer. Another day, another gorgeous example of The Man’s bullshit. God bless us, every one!