(CNN)The staff at a New Jersey restaurant that has been struggling amid the coronavirus pandemic were moved to tears after a regular customer left them a $1,000 tip.
Arnold Teixeira, owner of The Starving Artist in Ocean Grove, told CNN the customer has been a regular since 2001. He did not want to reveal the identity.
"The customer and his family ate their meal and left without saying a word," Teixeira said. "When the waiter serving them saw the tip, she just started crying. Then another one of my staff members saw it and started crying, too. And then I see it, and I couldn't help but cry. It was just extremely emotional because it's been a really difficult time for us."
The customer was having breakfast last week at The Starving Artist, which just celebrated its 21st anniversary, when he left the massive tip along with a heartwarming note.
"Thank you so much for working through this tough time," the note read.
"We are grateful for your delicious food, warm smiles, and great atmosphere... Please know we appreciate you all very much. It wouldn't be a good summer without the Starving Artist," the tipper added.
At the end of the note, the customer asked that the $1,000 tip be divided amongst the entire staff. Teixeira split it between his seven staff members -- not including himself.
The longtime owner of the restaurant, a beloved favorite of the Ocean Grove local and summer crowds, said he wasn't even sure he would be able to keep the business open after the pandemic forced him to close its door in March.
"Things just kept getting worse. It got to the point where I was preparing for the possibility that we might not be able to reopen again. And now we aren't even making 50% of what we usually bring in the middle of the summer season," Teixeira said.
"But this tip restored our hope in humanity. It made us feel so good about what we're doing. We go through a lot of steps to protect our customers, and it gets exhausting after a while, but now we know our efforts have actually been noticed."