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Tampa Bay and Sarasota's Leading Local News: Weather, Traffic, Sports and more | Tampa Bay and Sarasota, FL | WTSP.com

$1,000 tip to Tampa bakery pays for staff member salaries

The owner of Walkabout Aussie Bakery Cafe thought the customer left the tip by mistake after paying for a delivery order.

TAMPA, Fla — Three years ago, Regina Johnston moved from Melbourne, Australia, to Tampa. With a love for Australian cuisine, she opened Walkabout Aussie Bakery Cafe in March 2019. 

"It's a small business, I go around to each table and meet everyone, its like a family," Johnston said.

With Florida slowly reopening, including some restaurants, Johnston is doing her part to prepare and is eager to welcome customers again. 

"I've done a lot to keep everyone safe. I bought digital thermometers, my staff signed a checklist that every day before their shift, they don't have a temperature, they haven't been out of the country or in contact with someone sick" Jonhston said.

Since the stay at home orders and closings began in March, Johnston said she's seen nearly an 80 percent loss in business. Working to stay afloat, the bakery began accepting online orders, offering delivery and hosting a cooking show for visitors to learn how to make authentic Australian meals. 

Last month, a customer placed an order for delivery and left a tip worth $1,000. 

"I saw it and chased his car down to say I think this is a mistake, you left me a huge tip," Johnston said.

It wasn't a mistake. The customer behind the generous tip is known for supporting the bakery once a month. 

"I get emotional just talking about it. I remember he said to me you support all those people there at your cafe Regina, you always do things in the community, this is how I give back" Johnston said.

With the money, Johnston was able to pay two of her staff members for their work. 

We're excited to announce that starting Tuesday, May 5th our dining ... room will be reopening! We will be following state guidelines and CDC recommendations. Our staff will be equipped with gloves and masks and we'll be taking extra precautions with our cleaning protocols Due to operating at 25% capacity, reservations are encouraged!

"Business is slow, times are hard. I don't think he will ever understand how much that kind gesture helped me and my business," Johnston said.

Starting May 5, Walkabout Eatery will reopen to the public under new hours of operation to follow CDC guidelines. 

We're excited to announce that starting Tuesday, May 5th our dining ... room will be reopening! We will be following state guidelines and CDC recommendations. Our staff will be equipped with gloves and masks and we'll be taking extra precautions with our cleaning protocols Due to operating at 25% capacity, reservations are encouraged!

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