As it's been for many business owners during the pandemic, 2020 has been a tough year for Moussa Salloukh, the chef and owner of Souk Mediterranean Kitchen in Toledo, Ohio. He tells CNN that the restaurant, which he opened in October 2019, "was a tribute to my mother, and everything was going great until March, when we were forced to shut down." The restaurant has since reopened, but as Salloukh explains in a Facebook post, things haven't been the same. "This is not an ordinary December," he writes. "Normally this is a month when our employees work extra and guests tip generously. December is a month for them to earn money to buy family gifts, put a bit into savings, and take care of bills or repairs that have been lingering. With COVID restrictions and guidelines, that was not going to happen for them this year."
Enter "Billy," who came in on Dec. 12, ate his meal, then settled his bill. Salloukh tells WTVG that when the eatery's general manager came over with the paid tab, she was in shock. "She has this look on her face," he says. "I asked if everything was all right and she ... showed me the check." On it: a $5,600 tip, meant to be split among the restaurant's 28 employees, even those not working that day—meaning each staffer would get $200. Salloukh tells CNN some of his workers told him the generosity of the customer, who wishes to remain anonymous, allowed them to get a Christmas tree and buy presents for their families, which they wouldn't have been able to do otherwise. "The words 'Thank You' seem inadequate for this gift ... but Thank You Billy, for your generous spirit and for making a difference in the lives of people I care a lot about this holiday season," Salloukh says in his post. (Read more uplifting news stories.)