A widow who'd celebrated three decades of wedding anniversaries with her husband at Red Lobster was shocked this week when the staff left a note to say they had picked up her check, according to a post on the website Reddit.
"For every one of their anniversaries, my dad took my mom to Red Lobster, as it was her favorite restaurant," reads the Reddit item, posted Thursday. "He passed away in March from cancer, and today, on what would be their anniversary, my sister took mom to keep the tradition alive."
According to that post, the widow and her daughter found the following note in lieu of their bill: "We are sorry to hear about your husband's passing, but we appreciate your loyalty in spending 31 years of your anniversary with us. For your appreciation your meal is on us! We look forward to spending your next anniversary with us! Sincerely, Red Lobster + your server, Taylor."
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The note went viral on the Internet within a matter of hours. In their first media interview, Red Lobster server Taylor Murrie-Robinson and her manager, Chad Ward, told TODAY.com that they didn't think the gesture at their restaurant in Columbia, Missouri was out of the ordinary.
"It was great to receive the recognition, but it was definitely not necessary," Murrie-Robinson said. "It was a wonderful experience serving them. They were wonderful, very sweet people."
The Red Lobster employees didn't reveal the names of their customers in an effort to protect their privacy.
Murrie-Robinson, who's worked at the restaurant for a year, said she hadn't met the widow prior to the night the restaurant comped the dinner.
"Part of our entrance, as we're walking them to the table, is we ask them if they're celebrating anything today, and when I asked them that, her daughter let me know that they were there for her mom's 31st wedding anniversary," she added. "After that, she let me know that her husband had just away, just recently, in March, but her daughter wanted to continue the tradition with her mother."
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Murrie-Robinson said that, right after taking their drink orders, she asked her manager whether the restaurant could offer them a free dessert or appetizer.
"Chad said, 'You know, they've been coming here for 31 years; let's go ahead take care of their meal,'" Murrie-Robinson recalled.
The server said she escaped to the kitchen for a moment to write the note to the customers, placed it in the book that would contain the check, and dropped it off at their table. She said she had other customers waiting, so she didn't stick around to watch them read it.
"When I went back to their table to just thank them for coming in, (the widow) reached out to give me a hug and was crying," she said. "I told her she had to stop, because she was going to make me cry, too."
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Ward, who's worked at Red Lobster for 10 years, said he approached the customers as they were leaving.
"I just let them know how important they are to us," the manager said. "I wanted to make sure they knew that we'd go over the top for them. Every guest that walks through our doors is very important to us."
The manager also raved about Murrie-Robinson, saying he "couldn't ask for anything else" from an employee.
Murrie-Robinson said she's "completely in shock" that the story went viral and reached a national audience. "This is something that, I think, we all do as employees on a daily basis, so I really wasn't expecting any recognition for it," she said.
Erica Ettori, a Red Lobster spokeswoman, praised Murrie-Robinson and Ward for their kind act.
"What Taylor and Chad did really is a demonstration of how our restaurant teams live two of Red Lobster's core values: genuine caring and hospitality," Ettori told TODAY.com. "All of us at Red Lobster are tremendously proud of the Columbia team."
Ward said he appreciated the kind words, but emphasized the nature of his industry. "It's something small that happens on a daily basis," he added. "It's just two people doing something good for somebody else."