Customer leaves $2,500 tip at Ohio bar as coronavirus forces statewide closures

The customer, who the restaurant owner said wished to remain anonymous, left the generous tip on a $29.75 tab at the Coaches Bar and Grill in Columbus.

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By Janelle Griffith

A customer served up a sizable tip to workers at a restaurant in Ohio on Sunday, a short time after the governor announced all bars and restaurants will be closed as of 9 p.m. that day until further notice amid the coronavirus pandemic.

A photo of the receipt from the Coaches Bar and Grill in Columbus, which shows a $29.75 tab, was uploaded to the restaurant's Twitter account Sunday night.

"When the going gets tough, the tough stay loyal," read the tweet, which added that the "loyal, amazing patron" left the staff a $2,500 tip to help lighten the losses during the required closing of businesses in the state.

Benny Leonard, the restaurant's owner, told NBC News in a phone interview Monday that the customer who left the generous tip wished to remain anonymous.

"We tried to get him credit," Leonard said.

The customer, whom Leonard described as a middle-aged man, regularly attends trivia night at the restaurant each Wednesday.

The man left the tip about an hour after Gov. Mike DeWine announced all bars and restaurants were being limited to takeout and delivery in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus outbreak, Leonard said.

"It's very drastic action but we're taking these steps to save lives," DeWine said Sunday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended Sunday that no gatherings with 50 people or more be held in the United States for the next eight weeks.

The customer requested on the receipt that the tip be shared among a handful of workers whom he identified by name who were on duty. That group asked their boss that the tip be shared with all 13 restaurant employees, Leonard said. It was a sweet gesture, he said, for an indefinite and sad sendoff.

Leonard said the patron's kindness moved many on his staff to tears and put a smile on all of their faces.

"It changed things on a bad day," he said.

Leonard said he opened the business more than 25 years ago and Sunday was easily the most memorable day in his career.

"Sunday was one of the wildest days since I’ve been open," he said. "I’ve been through a lot, but nothing like this."