Secret Santa leaves $800 tip for Cornelius waitress


CORNELIUS, N.C. — Christmas comes a little early this year in Cornelius. A group of ladies who called themselves a secret Santa left a waitress a big surprise.

“I kept looking at it to make sure I wasn’t dreaming,” said Pam Palazzo. Monday was a typical day for the 58-year-old who has spent decades working in restaurants.

She waited on a table of seven ladies at The Cook House in Cornelius.

“They were laughing and had a good time and they were getting ready to leave and one woman came up and asked if I could take their picture,” recalled Palazzo.

She snapped the photo and the customer handed Palazzo a Christmas card.

“She said we’re going to leave your tip upfront and this is just a card,” said Palazzo who wished the ladies a Merry Christmas

Palazzo carried the card around for 45 minutes before she had a chance to open it.

“I ripped open the envelope and all this money falls to the ground,” she said.

Palazzo picked up the money and went inside. The restaurant owner, Phylis Karavas, helped her employee count the cash.

“She didn’t have words. She was so happy and surprised and she couldn’t count it so I had to,” said Karavas.

“She was like $780. Pam, there’s $780 in here,” recalled Palazzo.

The ladies spent around $70 for breakfast and left a $20 tip along with the cash inside the envelope.

The random act of kindness means the world to Palazzo especially this time of the year.

“We had a feeling it was going to be an extremely tight Christmas. My husband is sick so we have bills and medicine and I was telling my kids it’s going to be a lean Christmas but not anymore,” said Palazzo who has two children.

The restaurant employees still have no idea who these ladies are. Palazzo would love for them to come back some day so she can say thank you.

“Of all the people why did they pick me? It’s certainly going to help a lot. They have no idea,” said Palazzo.

The ladies didn’t leave anything behind that might tip off the employees about who they are so their identities may remain a secret.

“I was amazed, all day long I kept saying I can’t believe this,” said Palazzo.

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