COMSTOCK PARK, Mich — Over the years, Jenna Arcidiacono, or Chef Jenna as she's called, has made headlines for serving up all kinds of good deeds across West Michigan.
Her latest effort to help local restaurants, dubbed "Tip Back Thursday", is now making waves on social media.
Arcidiacono, the owner of Amore Trattoria Italiana, said she got the idea after her kids introduced her to Tik Tok.
"I was scrolling and I found this girl in Nashville who was doing crowd funding to tip a server," she explained. "I was like, I want to start doing that here locally. But I thought, instead of giving to one person, I'd like to bless a whole place. So, we decided that we're just going to tip big for a whole staff."
With the community's support, the #TipbackThursday movement has caught on, raising more than $20,000 dollars in just six weeks.
Arcidiacono selects several local restaurants to bless each week with a big tip, usually of $1,000 dollars or more.
The tips are captured on camera, often drawing tears and relief from restaurant workers in need of extra cash.
"We've had a few that didn't even know what to say, because they're not expecting it," she said. "You don't know what someone else is going through or how much they're struggling, because they're going to smile at work and get through it, but a lot of these people are struggling a lot."
Arcidiacono can relate. She had to close Amore for several months at the beginning of the pandemic. Her restaurant is still operating at limited capacity due to the latest state health order.
"We've had a rough emotional year, fiscal year, everything's been hard, so we're just trying to keep our heads up," she said. "I struggled this year too, because I missed having people here, because that's what I love, I love having people to spoil."
Arcidiacono has no idea how long Tip Back Thursday will last, but said she hopes it will continue.
"I keep saying it's selfish because it makes me feel good to do it, because I know the struggles people are having," she told FOX 17. "I just feel so good when I get to give back to someone that is in the same position I'm in. I know how they feel, I know how drained they are, how exhausted they are and how worried they are...if I can lend a hand to them, gosh, I would hope that if I was in that position, someone would do that for me."
Arcidiacono credits the campaign with creating a "domino effect of kind things".
Friends surprised her staff with a big tip of more than $5,000 dollars.
The staff at Burger Shack in Rockford also decided to pay it forward, by donating half of their surprise tip back to the community.
Some of the restaurants that have been a part of Tip Back Thursday include: Auction House, The Candied Yam, Two Guys Brewing, Hummus & Falafel, Lindo Mexico and many more.
If you'd like to help, Arcidiacono is accepting donations via her Venmo account.
As the FOX 17 and Lake Michigan Credit Union Pay it Forward Person of the Month, Arcidiacono is receiving a $300 prize.