Diners surprise longtime Olmsted Falls restaurant waitress with generous tip


OLMSTED FALLS, Ohio (WJW) – The spirit of giving was on display at Falls Family Restaurant in Olmsted Falls this Christmas Eve where a group of diners rallied around a waitress providing a memorable tip on their breakfast bill.

“The customers love her, a lot of them request her and she is just a great person,” said Roger Novak, of Falls Family Restaurant.

Novak, who runs the restaurant, said longtime server Maegen Hess is like family. He said Hess showed her dedication to the job during the stressful pandemic by taking on additional roles, including helping in the kitchen as they faced staffing shortages.

“Maegen, she’s wonderful, she’s been with us for 23 years,” said Novak. “All the customers love her and during this COVID process, she assists us in the kitchen, she does the majority of the prep.”

When the restaurant got a call from a group of diners who wanted to pay it forward to an employee, Novak knew who to serve up.

“I actually put a post out on Facebook, and I said, ‘somebody send me your favorite diners in the Cleveland area’ and this one got brought up,” said Dana Raponi, who helped organize a surprise for Hess. “There was a lot of good posts about it, so I decided to call the manager and they were all on board.”

On board for a surprise, a $600 dollar tip, the largest Hess said she ever received.

She instantly ran to the parking lot after she realized the group’s kindness to thank them in person before they reached their cars.

“This never happened to me in my 20 years of working here. It means a lot,” said Hess. “Thank you.”

The tip came at the perfect time to make the holiday season a little brighter for her family, Hess said.

“I was not expecting that at all… Very thoughtful, it will go a long way for me and my daughter at home,” said Hess. “She’s turning five this year, a big Christmas.”

Raponi said this moment of generosity is possibly the start of a Christmas tradition.

“I think it might become a tradition and if you can go ahead and give a little bit more, why not make someone’s day?” said Raponi. “The reaction that she had is priceless. I’m very happy.”

Giving back to those who give so much all year.

“Thank you so much,” said Hess to the group while wiping away tears. “Merry Christmas.”

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