Pennsylvania restaurant made famous by ‘The Office’ sues customer over disputed $3,000 ‘Jesus tip’

A generous tip at a Northeastern Pennsylvania restaurant has led to a lawsuit after a man promoting the social media trend “Tips for Jesus” appeared to dispute the $3,000 charge, stiffing the eatery.

(Video: WNEP)

On June 16, 25-year-old Eric Smith of Virginia was traveling through Scranton, PA to visit his mother when he stopped at Alfredo’s Pizza Cafe. At the restaurant, made famous after being referenced on “The Office,” the young cryptocurrency investor ordered a stromboli for $13.25 and, as WNEP had reported, left waitress Mariana Lambert a $3,000 tip.

“It really did mean a lot to me because, you know, everyone’s going through stuff,” she had said in reaction to the generosity. “It really, really touched my heart. I still can’t believe it. I’m still in shock.”

That generosity was called into question some weeks later when Alfredo’s was notified of a dispute. “A little over a month ago, we received something in the mail that Eric was disputing the charge for the tip that he left,” manager Zachary Jacobson told WNEP in a follow up.

Alfredo’s vice president Leslie Minicozzi Galacci relayed much the same as the situation was explained to The Morning Call. “You want to trust and see the good in people,” she said. However, after learning that the tip was in dispute, they saw no other recourse but to file a complaint with Magisterial District Judge Joanne Price Corbett.

Jacobson went on to WNEP, “We thought somebody was actually trying to do a good thing. And then now we are, what, three months later? Not even, and there’s nothing. There’s nothing to show for it at this point.”

At the time, the restaurant had verified Smith’s intent to give the large sum as a tip and the payment had cleared without issue. After restaurant owner Donald Galacci got in touch with Smith to question why the charge was being disputed, the patron and his assistant, Stephanie Thompson, allegedly said the bank had initiated the “chargeback” and that Smith no longer deals with the bank. His recommendation to Alfredo’s was reportedly to file suit or get in touch with the bank.

“It’s just a little aggravating right now,” Jacobson expressed. “It’s been causing a lot of nonsense and drama. Unfortunately, we had to file charges through the magistrate’s office because now we’re just out of this money at this point. And he told us to sue him. So that’s what we’re going to end up doing, I guess.”

Restaurant staff went on to assert that the gesture of goodwill motivated by the trend “Tips for Jesus” had been tarnished by an apparent effort to get the money back and the manager concluded, “I hope that he owns up to his actions and comes forth and does pay this because you shouldn’t have done this if this was the end result.”

The total sum sought by Alfredo’s in the complaint amounted to $3,700 to cover the tip along with fees and expenses. A hearing on the matter is scheduled for Oct. 25 and outlets reported Smith was unavailable for comment.


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