“The Most Beautiful Experience”: Thousand Dollar Breakfast Club Surprises Servers With Massive Tips — Exclusive

Courtesy of Laurie Brooks

A group of good Samaritans — some old friends, others new acquaintances — get together for breakfast every few months in the Boston area. At the end of each meal, they surprise their server with a generous tip, an amount reflected in their name: the Thousand Dollar Breakfast Club. 

Founded by attorney Richard Brooks with the help of his wife Laurie, the club usually leaves more than their moniker suggests, however. One server recently received $2,050. It all depends how many members attend the meal, each making a $100 contribution to the tip. 

“I was a waiter, so I know what it’s like to get a tip,” Brooks, 64, told Nice News. “And I still remember my first tip that was big, and it was a whopping $20. And I still remember it because I was paying myself through school.” 

The idea for the club came to Brooks after his brother told him about a group meal he’d attended in which everyone brought $100 to tip the waiter. For years, Brooks has made a habit of handing out $100 bills to people at random to brighten their days, so his brother knew he’d love the concept. And he did. On the evening of Jan. 2, 2023, Brooks took to Facebook to launch his own iteration. 

“I want to start a group to go to breakfast, 10 of us, and we each bring $100 to tip the waiter. The Thousand Dollar Breakfast Club,” he wrote, adding: “Anyone can go.” Within a day, he had around a dozen people who wanted to join.

Three months later, they convened at an iHop for the inaugural meal, leaving their server $1,400. The club has expanded since that March gathering, with local and national news outlets reporting on its generosity. Brooks is keeping his email list to around 30 revolving people, though, mainly to ensure the group’s size doesn’t overwhelm their server.

Courtesy of Laurie Brooks

“It’s amazing how many people reach out to you in different ways,” he shared. “And I had a few people that wanted to join, and I was like, ‘You know, I have enough people in my group. What I want you to do, though, is start your own.’” 

The impetus of the breakfast club is to make a difference in strangers’ lives. And it certainly does. Roberto Rivas, a full-time teacher who waits tables at two restaurants on the weekends, nearly burst into tears after receiving a $1,600 tip from the group last June. He told The Washington Post that he’d been saving to buy his mother hearing aids, and the club’s generosity made that possible. 

“It’s awesome,” Tulio Maldonado, who was tipped $1,300 in September, shared with Boston news outlet WCVB5. “I got a lot of bills to pay, so that sure is going to help me out,” he added. 

But it’s not just the recipients who benefit from the Thousand Dollar Breakfast Club. Early on, Brooks realized that its members were lingering long after the meals were over. “People stayed for like two hours or two-and-a-half hours chatting,” he said, noting: “It was the camaraderie of everybody in the group.” 

And that warmth and inspiring effect sometimes extends even further. 

Recalling the club’s very first breakfast, Brooks said one of the restaurant’s other servers was standing near him after his group had finished their meal and left the tip. Brooks apologized to the young man, telling him it was just “luck of the draw” that he didn’t get their table. 

“And he looks at me and says, ‘You know what, sir? I’ve been watching this thing’ —  this is like a 20-year-old kid — ‘This was the most beautiful experience to watch it as it unfolded. I hope that when I’m a little older, I have enough friends together that we can all do exactly what you did, and I can have my own club,’” Brooks recounted. 

“That made an impression on that kid,” he added. “Maybe he’ll do it, maybe he won’t, but it certainly will change his view on life a little bit.”