Pregnant waitress receives $2,020 tip: ‘It’s too good to be true’

A $2,020 tip on a $23 bill made a pregnant restaurant server “weak in the knees.”

Danielle Franzoni, 31, a waitress at Thunder Bay River Restaurant in Alpena, Mich., arrived at work on Sunday grieving the loss of her elderly neighbor. “I told my co-workers that I wasn’t feeling like myself but I put on my best smile. I take a lot of pride in being a server,” Franzoni tells Yahoo Lifestyle.

The single mom, who is six months pregnant, served a pair of regulars, who usually have breakfast every Sunday with their two sons. But this time, the couple dined alone. After Franzoni left them a bill for $23.33, she says the man began questioning whether servers were required to split their tips or keep them entirely.

When Franzoni went to retrieve the signed bill, she saw the note, “Danielle, Happy New Year. 2020 Tip Challenge,” written above the tip. “It took my breath away,” she tells Yahoo Lifestyle.

Michigan waitress Danielle Franzoni received a $2,020 tip on a $23 bill. (Photo: Courtesy of Danielle Franzoni)

Franzoni says that while crying, she walked over to her manager and gripped his shoulder to steady herself. “I said to him, ‘Is this a joke?’”

Thanks to the gratuity, Franzoni, a recovering addict who, only a year ago, was living in a homeless shelter, was able to rent a four-bedroom home for herself and her three children. She also purchased paint to decorate their new personal spaces. After moving expenses, Franzoni will use the rest of the money for tasks like getting her driver’s license.

Now, the mom feels nervous to greet her regulars, should they return to the restaurant on Sunday. “It’s too good to be true — I want to thank them,” she tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “They have no idea that they lifted so much worry from my shoulders.”

Michigan waitress Danielle Franzoni was given a large gratuity as part of the "2020 Tip Challenge." (Photo: Courtesy of Danielle Franzoni)

Franzoni says the money was a financial and spiritual boost. “I don’t want the recovery piece of this to be lost,” she insists. “I want anyone addicted to alcohol or drugs to not give up hope and stay clean.”

In fact, she recently tipped a local server $20.20, telling Yahoo Lifestyle, “It’s how I’m paying it forward.”

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