Benji Arslanovski, the owner of Our Place in Mansfield, Texas, said a family who ate in his restaurant left the eatery with more than they bargained for. You see, he believes that the family’s little girl stole a waitress’ tip. And the restaurant owner took swift action to bring shame on those who he felt had been responsible.
So what happened? Well, in July 2018 the family in question seemingly decided that they would pay a visit to this particular restaurant. Surveillance footage then shows what appears to be two parents sitting down at a table with young children: a girl and a boy.
Now, Our Place isn’t just any restaurant. It has actually been ranked as the number one eatery in the Mansfield area on TripAdvisor. As far as the menu is concerned, it serves a variety of breakfast and lunch delicacies, including chicken-fried steak, freshly baked pies and honey butter.
But let’s get back to the surveillance video. In the footage released by the restaurant, the family of four shortly arrive at their table. As they take a first look at their menus, though, the little girl seemingly notices something. And then she takes the action that so enraged restaurant owner Arslanovski.
You see, the footage shows the girl apparently noticing that a five-dollar bill has been left on their table. Arslanovski later argued that this money had been left by the previous customers as a tip for their server. But in the released footage, the girl appears to keep the money for herself.
During an interview with CBS 11 on July 16, 2018, Arslanovski described what he thought he’d seen. “When the little girl took the money, she showed her parents,” Arslanovski recalled. “If my son did that, I would just give him a look, and he’s going to put it down. So I was waiting for that look – and it never happened.”
To Arslanovski’s eyes, though, the footage does display the little girl showing her parents what she has found. But Arslanovski believes that her mom or dad do nothing to discourage her from taking the money. The video then shows the girl seemingly hiding the bill under her menu.
The waitress who’d been serving the table also said she’d spotted what had allegedly been going on. Instead of bringing the mistake to the parents’ attention, though, she decided not to say anything at all.
The waitress apparently felt that there might have been a mix-up and that when the family left, the original tip would be put back where it had been on the table. But this turned out not to be the case. Once the family had finished their meal, in fact, they appeared to vacate the table – without leaving the tip behind.
So when Arslanovski was made aware of this, he decided to take action. One of his first ports of call was to take a quick look at the restaurant’s surveillance footage. This apparently confirmed what had taken place. The owner therefore decided to use the video in an unusual way.
Arslanovski posted the clip to the eatery’s Facebook page, in fact, with a caption explaining why. It read, “Do you mind bringing back the server’s tip? She would appreciate it. We know how people can accidentally mistake tips as their own sometimes… thank you.”
The owner said he did this in the hope that the family would return to the restaurant and do the right thing. Arslanovski also stated that in situations where customers leave without paying, this can be a great alternative to calling the police.
Speaking to Fox 4 News, Arslanovski further explained the reasons behind his actions. “That’s the only tool we have to catch those people,” he said. “So we’re going to use it. It’s not okay, but we’ll give you the benefit of the doubt to make it right.”
Arslanovski would no doubt argue that a lot of servers do really rely on tips as part of their incomes. And if somebody had in fact left a tip for their waitress only for somebody else to steal it, then that just wouldn’t be right.
Arslanovski told Fox 4 News that this particular waitress needed the cash more than most too. “She’s pregnant,” he said. “She has two children. She really needs that money. She’s going to be off work for a while.”
Despite Arslanovski’s efforts, though, there was no guarantee that they would be successful. But in this case, thankfully, they were. Within a few hours of the post being uploaded, in fact, a woman returned to the restaurant with the tip money.
What’s more, Fox 4 News was outside Our Place reporting on the story when the woman came back to the restaurant. Although she didn’t want to be interviewed, the woman did reportedly claim that she hadn’t realized that her daughter had taken the money at the time.
Once the money had been returned, Arslanovski took down the footage from Facebook. However, this incident isn’t the first time that the owner has resorted to these methods in order to encourage his customers to do the right thing.
If he believes that patrons have left the restaurant without paying for their meals, for example, he’ll soon upload footage of them to social media. Arslanovski argues that this gives people the opportunity to put things right, and he vows to always take down a video if a customer returns to pay.
Although some might argue that this amounts to publicly shaming people without giving them a chance to explain their actions first, Arslanovski stands by his approach. In fact, the owner claims that customers have even thanked him for using this method instead of going straight to the police.