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Employees of popular West Fargo diner get $3,000 tip

Servers at Deaner's Diner received a $3,000 tip as part of the Great American Tip Off.

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Servers at Deaner's Diner received a $3,000 tip to be shared among themselves from the Great American Tip Off.
David Samson / The Pioneer

WEST FARGO — There's no higher compliment a restaurant can receive than having customers speak highly of its food and service.

This week, employees of one of West Fargo's favorite eateries are splitting a $3,000 tip for their hard work.

The restaurant at 405 Main Ave. W. was one of 20 recently selected by Marcus Lemonis to benefit after making an online pledge to give $1 million in tips to servers across the country.

Lemonis is the host of HGTV's "The Renovator" and CNBC's "The Profit and Streets of Dreams" as well as CEO and board chairman of Camping World. He founded the Lemon Aid Foundation to help the food and service industries impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Andrea Johnson, manager and co-owner of Deaner's, said Lemonis posted invites on social media for restaurants around the country to be nominated for the challenge and Deaner's Diner made the cut.

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"[Lemonis] chose 20 restaurants across the the U.S. and we were one of the 20." Johnson said. "That's pretty amazing."

Johnson said the $3,000 is to be split among the 24 total staff members, which includes servers, cooks and all those in both the front and back of the house.

Management told the staff about the large tip and began dispersing it on Tuesday, Jan. 11, a time when the restaurant would return to full staff after the holidays.

"We have some very thankful staff today," Johnson said.

Deaner's Diner has cemented its decades-long popularity by continuing the tradition of serving homemade dishes and delicious desserts along with longtime servers and cooks who regulars have grown to know well.

While the customer who nominated the restaurant has not been revealed to Johnson, she believes she knows who nominated the restaurant for the challenge and could not be more honored.

"There isn't a higher compliment than to be nominated by a customer,"Johnson said. "That's what we live for. That's why we all come to work every day."

Dean Johnson, another owner of the diner and Andrea's father said in a statement that the diner "will definitely pay-forward in the future.”

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In November, Lemonis launched The Great American Tip Off and pledged $1 million from his Lemon Aid Foundation to tip servers and workers across the country. Other celebrities joined the cause, including Amy Schumer, Jason Biggs, Kristen Bell and Rob Dydrek. Lemonis and the celebrities have made visits to businesses across the U.S. as part of the drive.

“Ultimately, it’s about our service providers who serve without expectation and it’s important to acknowledge those that provide opportunities for others. These are the real heroes – the ones that need the recognition,” Lemonis said in a statement. “I encourage you to join the movement, and award those who give great service with a great tip.”

Generosity has a rich history at the popular West Fargo eatery. In December, 19-year-old
Kayley Schaeffer was filling in on her day off when a table of seven chose her as a "Shock and Claus" recipient.

The women, all small business owners, paid it forward during the holiday season by each giving $100 to others.

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