Olive Garden Worker Jokes About Black Tippers. It Backfires

An Olive Garden server, who is Black, went wildly viral (over 15 million views!) for joking about older Black people not tipping well. Were the consequences worth it?

In the video, Theophilus (@t.heophilus) recreated the moment when he went back to a table to pick up his tip, only to find two dollar bills on the table.

For context, that’s only considered a “proper” tip if the bill came out to $10-$15. We can assure you that while Olive Garden is considered a more affordable sit-in restaurant, it’s highly unlikely that two adults ate meals totaling that little.

“pov: u serve a old black couple who got u running around doing backflips nd shi but only tipped $2,” Theophilus wrote in the text overlay.

After grabbing his measly tip, Theophilus goes to the bathroom to let out his frustrations. In the bathroom, Theophilus mouths the words to a TikTok audio saying, “[N-word] need to die, they need to die.”

It’s important to note that this humor was likely intended for a Black audience. Based on the comments section, it seems that the video reached more than Theophilus’ target audience and made its way to non-Black viewers—making it deeply uncomfortable when non-Black people leave comments in agreement.

Well, someone with some power at Olive Garden saw the video and wasn’t amused. Theophilus got fired over the video, he said.

“Ya, tell me why I got fired,” Theophilus said, laughing in a stitched video. His laugh soon turned to an exaggerated cry.

This isn’t the first time Theophilus shot a funny video at work. In another TikTok, he begged people to come into the restaurant so he could make a living wage. But that one didn’t get him fired.

“Me rn cuz my tiktok about black people got me fired,” Theophilus says as he fakes drinking salt water soup and sugar water soup for dessert, insinuating that he’s broke now that he doesn’t have a job.

“Olive garden gmfu,” Theophilus said. (GMFU means “got me f*cked up.”)

The original video has well over 15,000 comments, with a mix of people being amused and shocked, relating to Theophilus’ experience as a server.

“THIS AUDIO IS INSANE,” a commenter wrote.

“I be ready to give it back to em like girl you could’ve kept this. Can’t even get a bag of chips with this,” another said.

“This was me when I worked at Chuck e cheese and did birthday parties. A lady tipped me a pic of her baby’s first photo shoot,” a server shared.

Now let’s get into the nitty-gritty of TikTok. Theophilus’ video brings up the stereotype that Black people aren’t good tippers. While some studies (mostly from a decade or two ago) found that Black people generally tipped less compared to white folks, there are many possible reasons for this.

@t.heophilus #theophiluss #server ♬ original sound – Digital footprint

If Black people are stereotyped by servers in this way, the waitstaff is likely to give Black customers worse service because of the expectation of a lesser tip, creating a self-fulfilling prophecy.

“What ends up happening is a loop of circular behavior where Blacks have been traditionally discriminated against, Blacks expect to be treated poorly and treat servers with disdain, servers treat Black patrons with less care because they “know” Blacks tip poorly, and Blacks continue to tip poorly because they continue to get substandard service,” Ebony reported.

It’s also possible that many people are unaware of proper tipping etiquette and aren’t exposed to updated information about tipping.

@t.heophilus #stitch with @Theophilus #theophiluss #server ♬ original sound – Theophilus

For context, tipping etiquette dictates a 15% to 20% tip at sit-down restaurants if the service is good and 25% if the service is excellent. Even if customers aren’t too happy with the waitstaff, it is still recommended to tip at least 10%, Bankrate reported.

About 15% of adults in the United States are unfamiliar with tipping practices and are unsure about who or how much to tip, Bankrate added. And when it comes to older folks, they may be stuck in outdated customs.

“My gma and I were at iHop, Bill was about $32, she said, “Do u think a $2 tip is good?”[Skull emoji] Ma’am it’s not 1992 anymore,” one commenter shared.

The Daily Dot reached out to Theophilus for comment via Instagram direct message and to Olive Garden via email.


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*First Published: Jan 24, 2024, 11:00 am CST

Stacy Fernandez

Stacy Fernández is a freelance writer, project manager and communications specialist. She’s worked at The Texas Tribune, The Dallas Morning News and run social for The Education Trust New York. Her favorite hobby is finding hidden gems at the thrift store, she loves a good audio book and is a chocolate enthusiast.

Stacy Fernandez

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