Kingston servers get $1,000 tip, reminded of generosity amid coronavirus closures

"They knew that this was probably going to be the last tips that they got for a while.”

Moments after Gov. Charlie Baker announced that all restaurants would soon be limited to takeout and delivery in light of the coronavirus, two regular customers left a Kingston restaurant a $1,000 tip. 

“They knew that it was the writing’s on the wall,” Solstice owner John Cataldi said. “And they knew that this was probably going to be the last tips that they got for a while.” 

Before Sunday night, Cataldi said the fine-dining restaurant had already felt a decline.

“We’d already started slowing down a bit because of the fear,” he said, noting there were only two employees working when the ban was announced, as opposed to the normal nine or 10.

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The next day, Cataldi and his wife tallied up receipts and when he came across the $364.87 bill, with nearly a 300 percent tip, he figured it was a mistake.

“The number just didn’t make sense,” he said. But in a time of flux, it did reassure the restaurant. 

“We’re a small-knit community … we’ve been around for about 15 years now,” Cataldi said. “With all the crummy stuff that’s that’s been going on the past week it just felt like one of those things that reminded you, ‘Wow, people do really nice things for no reason.’”

He said staff appreciated the reminder that the community was there to support them.

“They were blown away,” Cataldi said. “Obviously stunned at the generosity.”

While he and his staff are grateful, he noted how many others are still left behind.

“It’s sad,” Cataldi said. “For the two employees that got a big tip, there’s a bunch of others that didn’t.”

With the ban in order, he said his restaurant has gone from a waitstaff and white tablecloth experience to take-out containers.

Acknowledging the loss of atmosphere, they’ve lowered their prices and had to reconfigure their menu.

“It’s a whole different world,” Cataldi said. “We have to get used to a new normal that’s so far from what our normal was.” 

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