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Waiter turns down $2,021 'Venmo Challenge' tip, pays it forward to another restaurant

'Some places they need this money more than us,' the server said

A business owner in Missouri has made it her mission to surprise the city's restaurant servers with gratuitous gratuities – but one waiter in St. Louis ended up surprising her with his response.

Missouri-based Nicole Genz, the owner of a small business in Kirkwood, has been raising money on Facebook as part of the viral "Venmo Challenge," promising her followers that she'd give every penny to a St. Louis server, KMOX news reported. The Venmo Challenge, meanwhile, has grown in popularity amid the pandemic on TikTok, where users raising money to disperse to the hard-hit restaurant community, usually in the form of a very generous tip.

A St. Louis server is paying it forward after being gifted a $2,021 tip. (iStock). 

A St. Louis server is paying it forward after being gifted a $2,021 tip. (iStock). 

Genz, who owns a furniture store, first posted about the challenge on New Year's Eve with a goal of raising $1,000. But since then, she’s reportedly collected more than $4,000.


After gathering the initial funds, Genz first surprised a waitress who "could not have been more appreciative." But when she went to Saffron Indian Cuisine with $2,021, intending to give it to the server, he politely refused.

"I cannot take it. I really appreciate your donation, but … it’s too much for me," the waiter said in a video Genz posted. "Some places they need this money more than us," the waiter said. "I really appreciate your support," he added.

Genz then tells him she hopes he and the restaurant get "10 times more support" after her followers see the video.

"Thank you," the server replied.

It was unclear whether the server heard in the video was also an owner of the restaurant, though he did indicate that he had been with the establishment since its opening in 2007.

In any case, Genz said she'd use the money to surprise another deserving restaurant worker in St. Louis.


"We own a small business and we know what it’s been like through this whole pandemic, which is why we’re trying to crowdsource our followers to do something good for a stranger we don’t know," Ganz said.