A loyal customer left a generous tip for three staff members at Washington, D.C.'s Blue 44

By Kelli Bender
Updated June 01, 2015 02:30 PM
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Credit: Courtesy Christofer Nardelli

A restaurant regular decided to show his favorite gumbo spot a little extra love with some big money last Monday.

Christofer Nardelli, the owner of Blue 44 in Washington, D.C., says one of his loyal customers left a $2,000 tip on a $93 bill, according to The Washington Post.

Nardelli, who is keeping the patron’s identity anonymous, told the paper that the customer always tips well, but that he was shocked to see a bonus this big.

The regular came in with a friend to feast on fried chicken, several bowls of gumbo and beer, and then paid for his food and left. It wasn’t until closing that the customer’s bartender, Laura Dally, noticed the unusual tip.

“I was in utter shock,” Dally said. “I was completely speechless. I had to do a double take.”

Along with the $2,000 tip, the patron left a note that said “Thank you for the gumbo,” along with instructions about how the money should be spilt between Dally, Nardelli and chef James Turner, with $1,000 going to the gumbo maker and $500 each going to Dally and Nardelli.

“This is the kind of stuff you see in the restaurant business that happens to some guy in the Midwest or the West Coast,” Nardelli said about the surprise. “You think, who are these people who give these extraordinarily generous tips that just made a server or bartender s day? And then sure enough, it happened to us.”

The staff of Blue 44 know the giving customer well. The local customer comes in several times a month and sometimes emails with the owner and chef about the food and beer pairings and his favorite menu item: the gumbo.

Recently, Turner reached out to the generous customer and asked the man to email him the next time he was coming in, so the chef could have his favorite type of gumbo (chicken and andouille sausage with a dark roux) ready for him.

The man responded that he would be in Monday for the treat, and he arrived as promised. Turner served the customer multiple bowls of gumbo throughout his meal, and sent the foodie home with two quarts of the stuff on the house.

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It was this welcoming atmosphere and dedication that led the man to leave the large tip. Nardelli emailed the customer after receiving the surprise to say thank you, and he received a response from the patron soon after.

“He said he’s very happy with what we’ve built and that he’s proud to be a customer,” Nardelli said.

“It’s flattering,” the owner continued. “It’s nice to see somebody appreciate what we do, and they’re willing to leave something like that for us. It’s hard to believe anyone deserves a tip like that.