Two weeks ago, one of bartender Cindy Kienow's regular customers left her a $100 tip on a tab that wasn't even half that. This week, he added a couple of zeros.

Kienow, a bartender at the Applebee's chain restaurant, got a $10,000 tip from the man for a $26 meal on Sunday.

"I couldn't move," Kienow told The Hutchinson News. "I didn't know what to say. He said, `This will buy you something kind of nice, huh?' And I said, `Yeah, it will."'

Kienow told the paper that the man, whom company officials have declined to name, comes in several times a month and eats at the end of the bar. He has always tipped well, she said, usually leaving $15 on a $30 tab.

Then came the $100 tip, followed by the real shocker.

"He usually signs his ticket and flips it upside down," said Kienow, 35, who has worked at the restaurant for eight years. "But this time, he had it right-side up and said `I want you to know this is not a joke."'

Rhodri McNee, vice president of operations for JS Enterprises, the owner of the Hutchinson Applebee's, told the newspaper that the company is in the final stages of verifying the tip.

"Nothing would make us happier than to present her with that check," McNee said.

Kienow said that while she always talks with the man -- usually about current events or the weather -- she can't think of anything that would have prompted the huge tip.

"I've been waiting on him for about three years," Kienow told the newspaper. "We'd just talk across the bar he's a really nice guy. I hope he comes back in so I can tell him thank you, because the other day I was kind of dumbfounded."