EXCLUSIVE: Man leaves $2,000 tip for North Bay restaurant for staff to split amid coronavirus 'shelter-in-place'

MARIN COUNTY, Calif. (KGO) -- A customer left a $2,000 tip for staff at his neighborhood restaurant in the North Bay before they were forced to close.

Due to Marin County's shelter-in-place order over the coronavirus - Buckeye Roadhouse in Mill Valley closed their bar & dining room on Monday. Last Friday, Robert Goddard, a regular customer, left a $2,000 tip on his lunch bill.

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One of the owners of Buckeye Roadhouse, Peter Schumacher, said he was completely taken aback. "Just out of the blue last week before it really even hit the fan, he said - I want to do something nice for the staff," Schumacher said.

Robert Goddard was having a late lunch with his wife and wanted to do something for the restaurant he and his family have celebrated birthdays, anniversaries and graduations at.

"Spontaneous, I just decided to do it. It was my way of plugging into the community to a place that means a lot to us," Goddard said.

Schumacher couldn't believe the number at first. "I said is this $200 or $2,000? And he said no- it's $2,000. Some people almost cried when I split up the tip that night among the staff," Schumacher said.

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25 staff members including dishwashers, servers and bussers were able to get $80 each.

Christy Brucoli, a server, was working that night. "He (Schumacher) said look, look! And he showed me the tip and I was like - there's hope. I live on my tips, everything is tips. I don't even make a paycheck, all my check goes to my taxes," Brucoli said.

Brucoli has worked at Buckeye Roadhouse for 15 years, she's been in the restaurant business for over 40 years. She said she's trying to stay positive but she's unsure of what will happen.

"It's pretty scary, I'm already thinking about like should I go into a different field because I might not have a job?," Brucoli said.

She said what Goddard did gave her hope.

"I mean that's what we have to do right now as a country. I mean some people have a lot of money, and some people don't and they live paycheck to paycheck like me," Brucoli said.

For now Buckeye Roadhouse is offering to-go services and Schumacher said they'll reassess in a week on what they can do. Right now they're rotating staff with the to-go service at the coffee kiosk they have in the parking lot.

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Schumacher said now is the time to help.

"If people want to make sure their favorite places are around. We need the support now. So order out, buy some gift cards, do what you can, because in a few weeks your favorite bar, coffee shop, restaurant may not be able to reopen, because they won't have the financial means," Schumacher said.

Goddard hopes what he did can inspire others to do the same, whatever amount possible. "If my story can inspire a few other people than great, then good. We can all do individual things to bring us all together," Goddard said.

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