FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — The owners of Oven and Tap now want a seat at the table to explain their side of an act of kindness that’s turned into anything but.
“We did not know walking into this how much money was going to be involved and what does generous act looks like,” says co-owner of Oven and Tap Mollie Mullis.
Tears of joy ran down Ryan Brandt’s face after she and another server received a $4,400 tip to split.
The two waited on a group of 30-plus that goes by the name, the $100 Club, because everyone tips $100 at the end of a meal.
Happy tears soon turned to tears of sorrow when she was fired from the restaurant.
“I was told that I was going to be giving my cash over to my shift manager, and I would be taking home 20%,” says Brandt.
Brandt says she shared with the $100 Club that she wouldn’t be able to keep her portion of the money without splitting it with the entire restaurant, which she says led to her firing.
Brandt and her attorney signed a release that permitted both owners to share why she was fired; they still felt it wasn’t their place to comment.
“The employee that was terminated was not terminated for retaining the tip. Due to the privacy and the respect of our employees, we do not discuss employee affairs,” says the co-owner of Oven and Tap Luke Wetzel.
Wetzel and Mullis say their tip policy is clear.
6% of bar sales go to bartenders, 2% of food sales to the kitchen, and 1% of food sales go to server assistants.
“That practice did not happen,” says Wetzel.
Brandt says this money typically comes out of her paycheck, not the cash she leaves with at the end of the night.
The organizer of the $100 Club, Grant Wise, says he called ahead to make sure Oven and Tap was not a restaurant that pools tips.
“They did not call ahead and ask about our tipping policy, nor did they email,” says Mullis. “Because of the customer’s request, we honored it and handed it out to the servers that they asked us to distribute it to.”
Brandt did ultimately leave with her cut of the cash, but she has been met with a cease and desist from Wetzel and Mullis.
Both Mullis and Wetzel say outside of their normal tip-out policy for support staff, pooling tips with everyone in the restaurant for larger parties is a common practice.
In her time at Oven and Tap, Brandt says they only ever split tips evenly with the servers which actually worked the function.