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Calgary coffee client leaves a massive tip for Gravity staff dealing with coronavirus drop off

An unidentified customer surprised the staff at Gravity Espresso & Wine Bar’s Beltline location on Thursday by leaving a generous tip after purchasing a cup of coffee and a cookie.

Let’s just say they exceeded the typical 10 to 15 per cent.

It was a $400 tip.

Café manager Mitch Cooper took the mystery customer’s order at the 8 Street SW location while barista Zuzanna Zyza prepared it.

“She ordered coffee and then sat with her friends, then came back to the counter to get a cookie and she said, I want to do something,’ before putting her card in the terminal,” said Zyza.

This was when Zyza realized the customer had left the substantial tip.

“I looked at the tip amount and thought wait, is that 40 or 400? I wondered if she’d made a mistake,” said Zyza.

“Then she told us to just split it, and she left.”

Café owner Andy Fennell said it’s remarkable to have that kind of customer support in the wake of the mounting coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s incredible to witness such an act of kindness in such uncertain times,” said Fennell.

“Everyone is going to feel the financial pain of this pandemic, and for someone who works at the CBE to tip 400 dollars at a time when they themselves are facing budget constraints and possible layoffs is amazing,” he said.

New measures to keep people employed, keep cash flow

Fennell conducted a trial delivery and curbside service Friday to encourage patrons to continue ordering from the café, while limiting the risk of further spread of the COVID-19 virus.

“If it’s successful, then we’ll continue with it in order to keep cash flow rolling and our employees employed,” he said.

Like many other Calgary businesses, the COVID 19 pandemic left Fennell with no choice but to cut staff and shorten store hours.

“Restaurant, bar and coffee shop workers are extremely vulnerable right now, and we have had to lay off over half our employees from our family-run business already,” Fennell said.

While free delivery services have the potential to create additional strain on businesses, continued patronage, and gestures like generous tipping, have a positive impact on business owners and their staff.

“Like us, many businesses may struggle to get through this pandemic and we truly appreciate the help and concern we are getting from our communities,” he said.