After nearly 10 weeks without serving a single customer either on the premises or in takeout boxes, Beaverton's Bargarten reopened its patio yesterday and was well rewarded—in the form of a $2,000 tip.
The restaurant, located in the Cedar Hills Crossing shopping complex, opened once again at noon on Feb. 10, and the very first customer through those doors left the huge bonus. The amount stunned the entire staff.
"The gentleman was actually waiting at the door before noon, " says Rene Briede, vice president of Bargarten's parent company, Güten Foods. "He came in and sat on the patio, had lunch. When he left, the server came over and gathered us around, and she was trembling. She said 'Look at this.' She was overjoyed and caught off guard."
Bargarten later posted a photo of the receipt on its Facebook page as proof of the extraordinarily large gratuity—written as both a numeric and in words as if to avoid any confusion about the amount. The restaurant also wanted to express its appreciation.
"We wanted to publicly thank this Bargarten Fan for their generosity toward our staff who have struggled during this time of closure," the post read. "Your support and the support of our faithful customers means the world to us and we look forward to serving you all!"
Bargarten was among all Güten Foods locations that closed in December due to pandemic-related restrictions on in-house service. That included a second Bargarten in Keizer and all three Gustav's in Tigard, Clackamas and Vancouver, Wash. At the time, a post on social media stated that "nearly 98 percent" of all the business's revenue came from indoor dining.
Two-plus months later, the customer, who was no stranger to Bargarten—Briede says staff consider him a regular—noted on the receipt that his meal was great and waitstaff had always been stellar.
That couldn't have come as better news to the server, a longtime company employee who'd been at that location since it opened three years ago and just recovered from COVID-19 herself.
As per company policy, the tip was shared among all members of the team, which wasn't just a financial boost but an emotional one.
"Our industry has been hit devastatingly hard, and to see generosity by the local community was overpowering," says Briede. "It lifted everybody's spirits."
So what does one order when leaving a $2,000 tip? A Bargarten classic.
"Chicken schnitzel," Briede says. "We make it the old-school way, and that's one of his favorite go-tos. He had a beer—a half liter, not a boot, because it was lunchtime."
Related: At Bargarten, Oktoberfest Never Ends.