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The Starving Artist at Days reopened for outdoor dining on its Victorian-style porch on June 16 after being closed since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in mid-March, but business has still been down about 50 to 60 percent compared to its usual summer numbers.
"July is the money maker, and if you're not seeing it in July, it's not going up from here," Arnold Teixeira, who has owned and operated The Starving Artist for 22 years, told FOX Business.
But customers have been exceptionally generous. To Teixeira and his staff, not much has changed; they're doing much of the same work they were doing before the pandemic but with increased effort and hours, so when people leave extra-generous tips and express gratitude toward the restaurant's "essential" workers and operations, it's "kind of beautiful," he said.
One tip, however, left several workers in tears. A family that has been visiting the restaurant since 2001 left their waitress a $1,000 tip on Tuesday. They left the restaurant before the waitress could thank them, leaving a note on the back of the restaurant receipt.
"Dear Starving Artist staff & owners, Thank you so much for working through this tough time! You are a BIG part of our O.G. community. My family looks forward to our mornings with you every summer. As my son said, 'Our favorite spot since 2001,'" the note read.
The customers added that they are grateful for the Starving Artist's "delicious food, warm smiles [and] sweet atmosphere" and requested that the tip be shared "among all the staff."
Teixeira said he has seen the family's children grow up; they and so many other families in the neighborhood are a part of the restaurant's history and success.
"It blew us away," Teixeira said. "It was such as affirmation that we were doing the right thing and making our efforts worthwhile."
Restaurants across the country have taken a significant hit since the pandemic led local governments to keep communities under lockdown for months in an effort to stop the spread of the virus. About 41 percent of U.S. businesses that paused operations in March have since closed for good, according to data published by Yelp in late June.