LYNCHBURG, Va. (WJZ) — A Virginia restaurant is facing public backlash after they shamed a 17-year-old customer who paid for his meal in change.
Cohen Naulty took his friends to lunch at Beer 88 in Lynchburg on July 16. The teen, who works as a server at another restaurant in Virginia, only had a $20 bill and the quarters he collected from his tips to pay for the meal.
Naulty paid the $45 check with his change and also reportedly left a $10 tip on top of it. Seemingly ungrateful for the tip, the Beer 88 staff took to social media to mock the teen’s payment.
“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,” Beer 88 wrote, along with the hashtag “#nohometraining.”
“If anybody met Cohen, they know it couldn’t be the farthest thing from the truth, and you know… he’s a good kid,” Cohen’s mother, Kim Naulty, said to WSET.
The post immediately received a tremendous amount of backlash from the community, which was perceived as an attack on a teen who was treating his friends to lunch.
“I love paying for people’s meals even if I have to scrape together my last quarters to do so,” the teen wrote on Facebook. Naulty turned the incident into a positive by setting up an online fundraiser that will collect spare change to pay for other people’s meals.
“Even though I got blasted for it, it only served to make me realize how much I love doing this,” Naulty explained. “Paying for someone’s meal can change a really bad day around in just one moment of kindness… I am sure there are places out there that wouldn’t mind being paid in quarters.”
Beer 88 initially defended their online shaming of the 17-year-old, hitting back at critics by posting “Obviously the SARCASM and HUMOR of this post is lost on most of y’all.” By July 17, the online post was deleted and Beer 88 apologized for the incident.