Man leaves $5K tip at struggling Norco restaurant

A Norco restaurant reopened this past weekend, and a customer surprised the staff by leaving a $5,000 tip.

On Friday, the Villa Amalfi Ristorante at the Hidden Valley Golf Course in Norco was packed with customers waiting to dine-in.

"We show up there, and it was a two and a half hour wait," said Greg Miller.  

Miller waited patiently with his wife and noticed a staff member working very hard.

"I saw her working hard, and I started talking to the person behind the bar, and I said 'who is that she works her butt off,' and he goes, that's the owner, and I said 'that's the owner?'" said Miller.

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The person Miller spotted was Nicole Hansen, the owner of Villa Amalfi. The venue is normally popular for weddings, and events, but Hansen had to cancel 100 weddings due to the pandemic.

"It's been really tough. We closed and then we tried to reopen and do the to-go order thing," said Hansen.

However, the to-go route was not working well.

"I think everyone's just trying to do what they can to survive at this point," said Hansen.

Miller admired Hansen's work ethic and desire to keep her business running.

"I felt bad. I felt like she was in survival mode so anyways, when the check came, I told myself I'm leaving her a $5K tip," said Miller.

One of the staff members told Hansen about the tip, and she thought it wasn't real.

"[The staff member]  was like it's real,  it's real, and I'm like no, I think they made a mistake," said Hansen.

Hansen spoke to Miller who explained to her how he intentionally left the tip.  

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"I just wanted to try to do something good, and it led to this obviously. I'm in a position where I'm very fortunate and she's in a position where she's trying to save her business, and I'm big on small businesses trying to succeed. We'll only better ourselves in the end if we share," said Miller.

Hansen and her staff are very grateful.

"The amount doesn't really matter, it's that people are giving from their heart and they're giving knowing that our business has been suffering and we survive on our tip money. I feel like a thank you is not even enough. It's very, very kind, and I promised him I would pay it forward and I will," said Hansen.