Cohen Naulty, a 17-year-old from Lynchburg, Va., said he only wanted to pick up the tab for his friends after they had dinner at the Beer 88 restaurant on July 16, WSET reported.
The problem? He only had a twenty dollar bill, and had to pay the rest of the $45 tab (plus a $10 tip) in quarters, which he earned from tips working as a server in a different restaurant, according to the site.
That didn’t sit well with the restaurant.
“Took a few friends out to lunch and only had enough to pay for theirs meal with quarters. Though it was enough for the meal and a great tip, I was blasted on FaceBook by the restaurant for paying in quarters. It was not a good day,” Naulty, who started a Facebook page called The Quarter Boy, wrote.
He included a screenshot of a post, since deleted, from Beer 88’s Facebook page. The post showed a twenty dollar bill, a receipt and two piles of quarters and other coins lying on a table.
“We’ll just caption this ... ‘How NOT to pay at a restaurant,’ cause that’s the nicest thing we can think to say about this ridiculousness,” followed by emoji of a woman making an ‘X’ with her hands and a face rolling its eyes. The post also included hashtags like #nohometraining and #wearebeer88notcoinstar.
“It’s just U.S. currency, I’m allowed to use it, it’s not illegal. I’m not doing anything wrong,” Naulty told WSET.
“The only way to have done it differently would have been to pay for only my meal with my $20 and not paid for my friends,” he told The Munchies. “I can’t say I am sorry for covering them. I love to buy others meals.”
The restaurant’s owner told WSET she apologized for the #nohometraining hashtag, but at the time said she stood by the rest of the post because it was not meant to harm.
“I was going to delete it, then after all that they said, you know what, I’m not backing down, because, originally, we never meant anything bad to them,” Liu told the station.
The posts sparked a wave of backlash, and eventually forced the restaurant to delete not just the original post, but its entire Facebook page, Fox News reported.
Before it did so, the restaurant released an apology on the page, according to ABC News.
“In response to our earlier post, it was posted as a joke, intended as a joke and should be taken as a joke,” Beer 88 wrote, according to the site. “It was posted as a light-hearted way of saying that something like this can be annoying to people that work in the restaurant/retail industry. In no way did we publicly shame ANYONE for paying OR tipping. We try to keep our page funny and relatable. And had no idea that this would be offensive to anyone.”
But Naulty says he’s turning his experience around and using it to help others.
“I decided that I would find restaurants out there that didn’t mind being paid in quarters and treat a patron at least once a week, just to see what this simple act of kindness could do for them! We will post videos so that you can see too how big a change just a little ‘change’ can make,” he wrote, and directed people to a fundraiser where they can donate to his cause.
“If you are a restaurant that wouldn’t mind a register filled with quarters at the end of the night and a special treat for one of your patrons now and then please post so I know who I won’t offend by coming by,” he wrote.