Greg Rubar, 42, has waited tables at D'Amico's Italian Market Cafe in Houston for 16 years. But his car was flooded during a thunderstorm weeks ago and so he had been taking taxis to work and borrowing the restaurant's catering truck from the owners.
But on Saturday, a couple who have been coming to the restaurant for about eight years gave him a handful of cash to help solve his car troubles.
"He said, 'I'm not going to be giving you a tip for a while. Take this money. Go buy yourself a car,' " Rubar told the Houston Chronicle.
"Nobody ever gives me anything," Rubar, who hesitated to take the money, told the newspaper. "They just wanted to help me out. They're nice people."
The couple wishes to remain anonymous, the Chronicle reports.
Rubar's mother, Annetta Rubar-Staff, said her son is a "hard worker" at the popular restaurant.
"They just love him because he gives good service to them," she said.
She said her "shy" son has been inundated by the recent media attention because of the gift.
"He's kind of embarrassed because everyone came and talked to him," she said.
Nash D'Amico, the owner of the restaurant, said Rubar tried to give the money back, but "they wouldn't hear of it," the Chronicle reported.
The money is technically a gift, not a tip, because it was not attached to a bill.
"The next time I see them I want to offer to pay it back," Rubar said. "To me, it would be more of a gift if it was a loan."
If the couple refuses, Rubar said, "I'm going to get the best car I can get for the money."