Melbourne, FL (Florida Today) -- Thanksgiving dinner, party of one.
Facingthe holiday with no family living nearby, a Melbourne woman did notwant to hassle fixing a feast for herself. With a family member dealingwith a major health issue, the outlook for the day looked bleak.
That's what led the woman through the front door of the Chart House restaurant in Melbourne mid-afternoon last Thursday, alone.
Three hours later, she left in elated spirits. And not of the wine-induced variety.
"Ijust needed my spirits lifted and everyone at the Chart House did it,"she said. "It was hard for me to leave. They made me feel like a memberof the family. They're always great toward me. I just felt like I owedthem a lot of gratitude for making my day."
Theattitudes of the staff left such an impact on her, the woman decided toleave an impact on them, too. Thanksgiving dinner ran each guest in thebustling restaurant $29.95.
Whenbartender Kim Gasperini reached across the dimly lit bar and flippedover the woman's check, she thought a decimal had been misplaced. Itmust have been $8.35.
Buton a cocktail napkin she found a note revealing there was no mistake.The $835 was to be split in $50 slices to the two bartenders on shift,and the rest spread evenly among all of the restaurant's about 50employees working that day. Each pocketed $15. News of the giantgratuity spread quickly around the restaurant.
ValetGeorge Seguna was outside. Though nothing like this had happenedbefore, he wasn't surprised when he learned who left the tip.
"She's a very, very giving person," he said. "We're just happy to have her as a regular here."
Gasperinihas been pouring cocktails at Chart House for 23 years, frequentlyserving up happy hour to the regulars who take seats at her bar. Theycatch up on events and tease each other. Like family.
"I'vehad outrageous tips, I have had gifts as tips," she said. "But neverthe entire restaurant. That's what blew me away. ... People were justdumbfounded."
Thebig tipper was surprised when she was contacted by FLORIDA TODAY onMonday. She spoke to FLORIDA TODAY about her gesture, but asked not tobe identified publicly.
"Ididn't do it to get praise," she said. "I did it because I am gratefulfor what I have. I'm very blessed and grateful that they spent theirtime away from their own families to serve us customers. That's theleast I could do."
Thewoman, who retired to Brevard County about eight years ago, dines atthe swanky riverfront restaurant once or twice each week. In that timeshe's become good friends with Gasperini, and last month went to a JoshGroban concert with a hostess.
"I love them dearly, and thank them for always taking such wonderful care of me," she said.
Check out some ofour mostread stories from 2013:
#shortyellows: Florida quietly shortened yellow lights
Terrorism Warning:Memo says terrorists practicing dry-runs on Floridaflights
Kittens shot:Officer shoots kittens in front ofchildren
Courtroom apology:Woman apologizes for flipping off judge
Weird ice: Strange, giant circles appear on frozen pond
Controversial Club:College student organizes "White Student Union"
Warning Shot Wife:Mother gets 20 years for firing warning shots at abusive husband
Science Arrest: Teen girl arrested over science project explosion
Wait, WHAT??Dog shoots man inthe leg with a handgun
Popular photo galleries:
Faces of Meth:Devastating before and after photos of meth abusers
Travon Martin Shooting:Trayvon Martin crime scene photos and GeorgeZimmerman injury photos
Hooters Winners:Winners of the 2013 Hooters swimsuit pageant
Rejected:Funny Florida license plates rejected by the DMV ***warning graphic***
Deadly sinkhole:Home collapses,man dies in giant sinkhole
Florida Sex Offenders:Look up sex offenders in any Florida neighborhood here
Restaurant Inspections:Look up inspection reports for any Florida restaurant here