Diner puts some joy on bottom of his bills

By Verena Dobnik

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

The US$111.05 ($134) New York restaurant receipt includes a US$1000 tip and the words "god bless!" scrawled across it.

The handle @tipsforjesus is stamped next to an illegible signature.

In recent weeks, similar tabs have popped up in restaurants across the US and even in Mexico, with tips of as much as US$10,000 all charged to American Express.

So who's the anonymous tipster leaving a trail of generosity across the continent?

Tips for Jesus - an Instagram account filled with photos documenting the tips - has more than 50,000 followers. The account displays photos of smiling servers holding receipts with outlandish gratuities on bills also tallied in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Phoenix and Ann Arbor, Michigan. On Twitter, Tips for Jesus has nearly 3000 followers but no tweets.

The Instagram feed comes with the tagline, "Doing the Lord's work, one tip at a time."

Three Manhattan restaurants were especially blessed in the first weekend of December. A waiter in the restaurant of the NoMad Hotel got a US$7000 tip, another at The Smith restaurant was left US$3500, and US$1000 went to Aruj Dhawan, a 25-year-old fashion marketing student and immigrant from India working at Bo's Kitchen & Bar Room.

Dhawan served three guests. Their order amounted to US$111.05, plus US$1000 for the waiter.

When they were gone, "Aruj approached me, handed me the receipt and said, 'Is this for real?"' said general manager Benjamin Cramer.

Again, before leaving, the tipster had snapped the waiter with the cheque and posted it on Instagram.

The tipster also wrote his cellphone number at the bottom of the tab, telling Cramer to call him if American Express had any issues with processing the receipt.

After seeing the amount, Cramer said he understood why the credit card company might be suspicious and he himself was curious. So he called the number. The man who answered reassured the manager that the tip was real. The man demanded anonymity.

A US$1000 tip also went to a waiter at the Hungry Cat in Los Angeles after three men finished their dinner, said restaurant spokeswoman Jannis Swerman. One of them stamped the check @tipsforjesus.

In another photo, a Phoenix bartender beams looking at his US$2500 tip.

"This middle-aged gentleman came in with a woman, and they sat at the bar," says Micah Olson, the bartender at Crudo who served them one of the most expensive whiskeys at US$70 an ounce. "They sat at the bar and had 5 ounces total," Olson says. "The guy was really cool and bought me 2 ounces."

The man asked for the cheque - US$530.67 - and paid with his Amex card.

"When they left, I saw the tip and I went, 'Wow!"' says the 35-year-old bartender.

"I hope one of these days, we'll find out who he is."

- AP

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