By Beth Jarvis
Alexandria, VA — Christmas came early for Clarence Hawkins, a server at Augie’s Mussel House in Old Town. It’s a safe bet he’ll remember this group’s lunch, and generous tip, for the rest of his life.
Dining events called “Shock & Claus” – where restaurant goers open their hearts and wallets to unsuspecting service industry workers – happen throughout the country during the holiday season. Originally started in 2015 by an organization called Good Wood Club in Denver, Colorado, these outings involve a group of friends sharing cash (via an oversized tip) and kindness for a random restaurant worker.
Last week, nine such friends gathered for a festive lunch at Augie’s Mussel House and Patio in Old Town Alexandria and continued the tradition by surprising their server, Clarence Hawkins, with a combined tip of $1,770. In addition to each member of the party tipping Hawkins a $100 bill, donations were received in advance by other generous friends who were not able to attend but still wished to participate.
After Hawkins received the tip he said, “Thank you all so much. You have no idea what a blessing this is to me. Thank you.”
Hawkins has been a server with Augie’s for about a year and is the father of two young sons, ages 4 and 6. Like many in the service industry he’s been negatively impacted by the pandemic, so receiving this tip was a welcome boost.
Eileen Vaughn, Director of Operations for Common Plate Hospitality, which owns Augie’s, Mason Social and two Urbano restaurants, said, “Clarence is an amazing man who has been hit by some struggles. Although he is in a struggling time in his life, he comes to work with a smile and is the happiness many need.”
Vaughn and her husband, Christopher Vaughn, who referred the luncheon group to Augie’s via The Zebra Press’ “Alexandria Dining – Curbside, Inside and More” Facebook Page, were instrumental in helping organize the effort. When Eileen Vaughn was first approached and told of the group’s intention to “Shock & Claus” one of her esteemed employees, she said, “You have brought tears to my eyes.”
Of the “Shock & Claus” experience, diner Elisabeth Auld said, “I am so excited to take part in this today – a win-win-win – a fun lunch out, support to a local business, and direct support to someone that could really use a boost. I’ve come across social media posts over the last few years of groups of friends doing this and thought this was such a great idea. It reminded me of a friend that got too busy to volunteer one holiday season, so she withdrew a hundred dollars from the ATM and left lavish tips all day on Christmas Eve.”
Vaughn said, “We are so happy to have been a part of this and we will be paying something forward!”
Interested in planning your own Shock & Claus event? Check out https://shockandclaus.com for more information.