'Tips for Jesus' bandit strikes in Manhattan - KMSP-TV

'Tips for Jesus' bandit strikes in Manhattan

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NEW YORK (MYFOXNY) -

We have no artist's rendering of the bandit tipper's face. No witnesses willing to talk. Only unanswered questions and hushed whispers. Oh, and tens of thousands of dollars in tips.

On a late Tuesday afternoon, we found the wait staff at Bo's Kitchen and Bar Room in the Flatiron District bustling in preparation for the establishment's 40th night in business--not so silently hoping it might bring them the same fortune as evening No. 38.

"I saw one server do a little dance afterwards," 24-year-old general manager Benjamin Cramer said of that fateful Saturday.

Dec. 7, 1941: A day to live in infamy for a nation. Dec. 7, 2013: A night to set aside a little extra rent money for the 10 servers and bussers at Bo's.

"It seemed like a ploy, a fake, a joke," Cramer said.

Kramer and fellow manager Nicole Rowland, 25, immediately deemed a prank the $1,000 in gratuity one of their waiters received Saturday night after serving $100 of shrimp, ragu and bourbon. After all, what kind of real tipper signs with a stamp declaring himself only "@tipsforjesus"?

"They left a cell phone number and we ended up calling it and they said it was totally legit," Rowland said.

The generous donation proved real, the check cleared and the wait staff at Bo's rejoiced.

"Never in my life," Cramer said. "Nothing like that."

Over the weekend, a patron using the same signature left an extra $3,500 at The Smith near Lincoln Center and a whopping $7,000 in gratuity at Chelsea's Nomad.

An Instagram account -- named, what else, "@tipsforjesus" -- documents a string of similar money dumps at restaurants across America.

"It's pretty amazing that we got to be a part of that," Rowland said.

The identity of this phantom tipper (or tippers) remains as murky as his/her/their motive. But for a couple of restaurant managers in their early 20s looking to cement their fledgling kitchen-lounge-bar as a neighborhood go-to, an extra grand made another stressful night in a stressful industry just a little more rewarding.

"It's a good date -night spot," Rowland said of Bo's.

"We'll take any customer though," Cramer said, laughing.

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