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Cover Two Shares A Grand With Servers After ‘Tip Off’ Tout



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A popular Sandy Hook restaurant has received and shared a $1,000 tip through a national campaign launched in November by entrepreneur, philanthropist, advocate, and TV personality Marcus Lemonis.

Cover Two Sports Café owner Tyler Taratino was surprised earlier this month when his restaurant received a $1,000 check from The Great American Tip Off. In launching the program two months ago, Lemonis pledged $1 million from his Lemon-Aid Foundation to tip servers and workers across the country due to the food and service industries being so greatly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The cafe/restaurant at 100 Church Hill Road, according to a press release from Marcus Lemonis LLC, is “committed to making a great atmosphere, dining experience, and sports hub out of Sandy Hook.”

The restaurant, the release also noted, “was awarded $1,000 to share amongst their employees due to a social media nomination.”

Taratino said the gift caught him and his staff “completely by surprise.”

“We want to thank Marcus and his team for the kind gesture and will be paying it forward in the future,” Taratino continued in the release. “The tip was split evenly amongst every server here and is something we are all grateful for.”

The restaurant shared on Facebook on January 12 that it was nominated “about a month or so ago” by a customer for the Great American Tip Off.

Taratino spoke with The Newtown Bee on Monday, January 17. He said that while the nomination happened in late November and he was notified of the “tip” in December, the information was not publicly announced for a few weeks, “until I could verify this was all really happening.”

Three days after launching The Great American Tip Off, Lemonis used his social media feeds to announce that he would pick $1,000 tip recipient winners for every 50 retweets sharing the #GreatAmericanTipOff hashtag.

The customer who nominated Cover Two tagged the popular restaurant on Twitter.

“All of a sudden we started getting a lot of notifications,” Taratino said Monday morning. Customers and friends responded to the challenge, however, continuing to retweet the nomination. As a result, Cover Two was one of 22 small businesses across the country to receive a check through that challenge.

The entire program, up to the moment Cover Two received the check from Lemonis, “was just amazing,” Taratino said this week.

“This is one of those things you see, but you don’t usually know anyone involved,” he added. “This was really such a cool thing.”

Celebrating Service Providers

Marcus Lemonis announced The Great American Tip Off 2021 on November 19, saying via Facebook he was “celebrating the holiday season by toasting and tipping the hard-working Americans who serve us every day and depend on tips to make a living and feed their families.”

The program, he said, would support all service industries “by encouraging everyone to be a big tipper during the holidays and all year long by adding something extra to your gratuity when you’re thanking people for a job well done.”

To kick off the initiative, $60,000 was put aside for the first 20 restaurants picked, with each restaurant receiving $3,000 to share among staff. Hometown Pizza in Litchfield was among that first group of restaurants selected from across the country.

Another $60,000 was earmarked for 20 salons, with each receiving $3,000 in tips for their respective staffs. Ten hotels received $5,000 each for their respective staffs.

Lemonis also encouraged the public to join him in the program, tipping generously for good service whenever possible.

During an appearance on “Good Morning America” in December, Lemonis said he wanted to do three things in 2021. The first, he said, was “to educate consumers on the importance of tipping the service industry. During COVID, a lot of people were left in the dark because they didn’t see consumers.

“Secondly, we wanted to really make sure the individual service provider understands that they are an entrepreneur,” he continued. “Ten dollars a day in tips is $3,000 a year.

“The last is the controversial one: I wanted to, in a nonpolitical way, get the discussion going around wages in America,” he said. “Rather than having a discussion saying ‘We should pay more’ or ‘We should pay less,’ just let the conversation get started by using tipping as the vehicle.”

Lemonis encouraged people to think beyond those who are usually tipped for their services. In addition to servers, he said on GMA, consider sanitation workers, teachers, and “the guys who help you with your bags at the airport.”

Among his hopes, he said, was to start getting people to think differently about people who are service providers.

“They’re not servers,” he said. “They’re just folks that are helping make our experience better, in a lot of different forms.”

For those who cannot afford to overtip, but want to do more, Lemonis suggests thinking beyond money. Write a note, leave a very positive Google or Yelp review, or speak to the manager of the person who provided exemplary service, he said.


Associate Editor Shannon Hicks can be reached at shannon@thebee.com.

Cover Two Sports Café in Sandy Hook recently received and shared among its staff a $1,000 tip from The Great American Tip Off, a national campaign launched by entrepreneur and philanthropist Marcus Lemonis. —Bee Photo, Hicks
Marcus Lemonis launched The Great American Tip Off via his Facebook page on November 19.
Cover Two was one of 22 small businesses across the country to receive a Great American Tip Off check after a customer tagged the restaurant on Twitter. —Bee Photo, Hicks
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