‘Don’t come back’: Restaurant owner’s return message to couple who left note saying ‘Don’t tip immigrants’

Cup of coffee at a diner.
(pkripper503 / Getty Images/iStockphoto)
New York Daily News

Restaurant owner Santiago Orosco was flabbergasted on Sunday when his server showed him the note scrawled on the back of a check: “Don’t tip immigrants!”

The owner of the popular Under the Moon Café in Bordentown, N.J., Orosco couldn’t believe his eyes.

“It was very shocking when I saw it,” he told The Daily News. “And I felt for her. She was very distraught. Very hurt by it.”

He took to Facebook with a post detailing the encounter with the 40-something couple who had arrived excitedly and “raved about the food, the décor and the service.”


They had seemingly loved the ambience, the food and the server’s recommendations. However, that apparently changed when they overheard a snippet of conversation between the server and a colleague.

“While our server was closing out for the evening and reconciling sales receipts, she noticed that these customers had written a note on the back of their bill stating, “DON’T TIP IMMIGRANTS,” Orosco wrote. “I can only assume that they heard our American multilingual server speak Spanish to another employee. I am utterly shocked at this blatant ignorance.”

On Sunday the support was pouring in over social media, Orosco told The Daily News.

“We’ve never seen anything like it,” he said in a phone interview. “It’s insane. I never expected it to be this … crazy.”

Most of the support was online, in the form of more than a thousand comments, he said. But people were also stopping by to leave money for the server’s tip. However, all they had eaten was cake.

“The bill for that was not even $10 because they only had a dessert,” Orosco said. “So the tips would have been two or three dollars, but that’s not the point of the whole story.”

In addition to being bigoted, he said, the note was a cowardly gesture.

“I was hoping they would have come back to apologize,” he said, though he also emphasized they would not necessarily be welcome in his establishment. “What they did was very cowardly. At least voice it and show your face. But writing a note and then hiding it and running out the door is very cowardly, and I don’t support that.”

He said the community support carried greater weight than the nasty note, and noted that he is a “proud immigrant” – from Argentina, in 1991 – and has owned the restaurant he founded for 13 years.

“Immigrants are part of this society. It’s a reality for America,” he said. “We’re a melting pot. People have to be a little more accepting of this.”

He came legally, he said, but he understood people who risk their lives to get to the United States. They do not do so lightly, he said. The legal way is “not an option for them,” he said. “And they’re so desperate to have a better life. They don’t walk 3,000 miles with a toddler on their shoulders because they have a disease, or are criminals, or belong to a freaking gang bang or whatever it’s called.”

The cowardly couple’s assumption that the server was an immigrant was dead wrong. Her parents moved here from Uruguay 30 years ago, Orosco said, and she is American – and also happens to be multilingual.

“It’s just very hurtful and mean and completely useless.”