RIVERTON, Utah — A local waitress received an early Christmas gift this week, and it didn't come from just one Santa Claus... but a whole group of them.
Before starting her shift Thursday at Salsa Leedos in Riverton, Yoshimi Gonzalez expected a typical evening on the job. It was a busy night and she was serving a large group of 12 holding their annual Christmas party at the restaurant.
"It was just a normal night for me, yesterday," said Gonzalez, a mother of three who holds two jobs. "I showed up not thinking that I was going to be so lucky to get a wonderful, amazing gift."
That gift came at the end of the dinner when Gonzalez went to close out the check, only to find an incredible $1,700 tip along with the receipt.
Yoshimi said with a party that size, she expected a tip around $100. But that was nothing compared to what she ended up with.
"It really took me by surprise," Gonzalez told FOX 13. "I was trying really hard not to cry, and then after everything, I was shaking for a really long time."
Video of the moment showed a stunned Gonzalez holding back tears and then hugging many in the group.
"I've heard about things like this happening, but I never thought I would be so lucky to be the one who gets a tip like this," Gonzalez said.
The group who gifted the tip isn't new to the restaurant, having previously handed out large gratuities to servers during the holidays. Owner Travis Bonino said the party usually gives him a heads up about their gifts, but not this time.
"She was in complete shock. Amazing. She couldn't thank them enough, she started crying," said Bonino. "She was just blown away by it."
And Gonzalez wasn't the only lucky employee at Salsa Leedos; other servers this week received tips ranging from $100 to $200. Just a few months ago, another lucky server found they had been given an $800 tip.
"We've been flooded with generosity," Bonino said. "Our employees, our staff, even during COVID, our customers have just shown the greatest loyalty ever to us, and then the holidays roll around and they really step up."
Ironically, the generous gratuity came less than a week after a waitress in Arkansas received a $4,400 tip, only to be fired when management told her she needed to share it with the rest of the staff.
Both Bonino and Gonzalez said they were just as shocked to hear about that story as they were about Thursday's gift.
"You get a tip, it's yours!" said Bonino. "I think that restaurant failed, they didn't make the right decision about what they did with that server."
"I thought it was very unfair," added Gonzalez. "Luckily for me, my managers and the owner of the restaurant, they're very fair when it comes to that and we don't have to share our tips. So I got to keep every single penny of it."
Yoshimi said she will use the money to pay off bills, get a new coat and buy new snow boots and shoes for her children. But apart from the money, she says the gift she received is part of a bigger message that everyone should hear, especially these days.
"During hard times like we had in 2020, and even still, there's bad times, but we have to be able to look at the good things. Everything comes around full circle."
"I believe in putting positivity in the world, and as you can see, it paid off!"