COMSTOCK PARK, Mich. — A new initiative started by a well-known restaurant in Comstock Park aims to help other West Michiganders in the industry by tipping them during a time when the extra money is hard to come by.
“Of course the staff was just like, ‘Ahhhh!!!’" said Josef VanHorn, owner of Josef’s Catering Company & Cafe and Tomato Pie in Wyoming.
Tomato Pie, another restaurant in Wyoming, Two Guys Brewing, and Auction House Cafe in Wayland each received $1,000 this week as part of #TipBackThursday.
“It’s not even about the money; it’s about the kindness,” said Amy Payne, co-owner of Two Guys Brewing.
#TipBackThursday is an initiative started two weeks ago by Jenna Arcidiacono, chef and co-owner at Amore in Comstock Park, and her friend, Jen Mitchell.
“I actually saw a Tik Tokker do it starting in, gosh, maybe three months ago,” said Arcidiacono. “She was posting…and I was like, ‘This is the best idea ever! I wonder if I can make that happen here locally.’”
Arcidiacono and Mitchell use their social media platforms to encourage people and choose restaurants based on community submissions. Before the most recent #TipBackThursday, they donated to three other restaurants, bringing the total to six. Each restaurant is able to dive up the money between hosts, cooks, waiters and whoever else needs it.
“It’s been awesome,” said Arcidiacono. “Just to see, you know, even $5 really makes a difference when you add it all up.”
VanHorn calls the initiative a needed boost.
“Sometimes that’s more than they make in a week, so for them to have a couple hundred-dollar bills at them, they’re like, ‘Yes this is a good day!’” said VanHorn. “To give back and to make people smile in an industry that we’re working so hard to survive--it’s amazing.”
Kim Powers, owner at Auction House Cafe, says during the second shutdown, people began tipping less.
“For us, the tips are our paycheck,” said Powers. “That’s how we pay our bills at home, and that’s how we buy our groceries, our gas. That’s how we survive.”
Powers says she was shocked while receiving the money. She had never met Arcidiacono before Thursday.
“To be able to give that to my other employees and see that look on their face, was just like, it’s awesome,” said Powers. Everybody was just like ‘Oh, wow, [I] can’t believe somebody did that for me.’”
Payne adds because of the restrictions, many restaurants cannot make up for the revenue loss workers experience due to a lack of tips.
“I used to have a 30 percent 'food' cost, if you will, so the other 70 percent of what we sold went to overhead and staff,” said Payne. “Well now, I have close to a 60, even 70 or 80 percent 'food' cost if you will. That does not leave a lot for other things.”
Payne hopes #TipBackThursday inspires people to support one another.
“I really believe that if we just started lifting each other up, including other businesses, we’re all better for it.”
To donate to #TipBackThursday, people can Venmo @Jen-Mirchell-9 or @Jenna-Arcidiacono. Donations may also be dropped off at Amore.