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'COVID Bandit' leaves $1,400 tip at Colorado cafe

The tip was divided among the cafe's seven employees.

ESTES PARK, Colo — A remarkable act of generosity brought some unexpected joy in dark times to the employees of a cafe in Estes Park.  

According to Notchtop Cafe owner Nailya Khametvalieva, one of the eatery's regular customers came in last Wednesday and had a conversation with his server, Gloria, about the difficulties brought on by the pandemic and recent wildfires.

He had worked in the restaurant business before and said he knew how hard it could be, Khametvalieva said.  

He asked Gloria how many people were employed at the cafe, and she told him seven. 

Then, on a tab of just over $20, he left a $1,400 tip to be divided among all the employees. That amounts to a 7,000% gratuity. 

"COVID Sucks!" He wrote on the receipt. "$200 for each employee today!"

"I think it's wonderful," Khametvalieva told 9NEWS. "I think we need some good energy like that, especially with the circumstances restaurants are going through...things like that bring hope to my staff."

The customer preferred to keep his identity private, Khametvalieva said, preferring just to be called "The COVID Bandit." 

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But the generosity didn't end there. Since posting about the gift to the cafe's Facebook page, Khametvalieva, said, at least eight different customers have left $100 tips for her staff.

"It makes us feel like we're not alone here," she said.

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