Friends leave $2,200 tip for Mississippi waitress: ‘It was amazing. I feel so blessed.’

Published 9:19 pm Saturday, December 18, 2021

Most people feel a 20% tip for their server is generous, but a group from Ocean Springs and Biloxi wanted to do something big that would change Christmas for their waitress.

The idea started with a discussion during an early family Christmas. It took about 30 minutes to send out a text message to a list of people who might want to share a special breakfast and spread good cheer.

The owner of Phoenicia Gourmet Restaurant in Ocean Springs, Sam Sabagh, took a call on his day off Dec. 13, and reserved a room for the surprise.

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The group was limited to 20 — the number one server could manage alone.

Ashley Sadler has worked there for 3 1/2 years and served them breakfast Dec. 14 with no idea of what was to come.

“These people are regulars,” she said. “They come in all the time. They’re like family.”

When it came time to pay their bills, the 20 people each added $100 cash for her tip. Two other people who couldn’t come to breakfast gave donations of $100 each, bringing her tip to $2,200.

“It was amazing,” said Sadler, who cried when she received the tip. “I feel so blessed.”

Then she spread those blessings.

“I did give the busser money,” she said.

She split the rest with the hostess on duty, and when she was done giving to other people had $920 left.

The group who gave her the tip wanted it to go to someone who had kids, said John Boothby, one of the 20 at breakfast.

Besides having breakfast together, each of them got as much out of the experience as they gave, he said.

“You feel as good as the person receiving it,” he said.

Sadler is a single mother with four kids and said she plans to spend the remaining money on her kids.

“I get to give them a good Christmas,” she said.

Christmas is the time of year when people pay layaways and back-due cafeteria bills for others. This year the big tip could be the “ice bucket challenge” to encourage people to do something big for someone.

There are a lot of hard-working people, Sadler said, and she knows this would make their day or year.

“I feel super special,” she said. “I can’t even wipe the grin off my face.”