Patron leaves staff a $10,000 tip on $193 meal at Castaway in Marathon, Florida

An anonymous patron left a $10,000 tip on a $193 breakfast tab at Castaway Waterfront Restaurant and Sushi Bar in Marathon, Florida.

This happens sometimes, but never here, never to “us.”

On March 16, a woman named Pam left a $10,000 tip on a $193 breakfast bill at Castaway Waterfront Restaurant and Sushi Bar in Marathon, Florida. 

“It was a party of 10 and they were waiting on a few more guests to arrive,” said waitress Khara Wilson. “It was a busy morning, but I had a little time so I chit chatted a little bit — where they were from, when they were leaving. I got the impression that she was visiting with her kids and grandkids.”

KHARA WILSON. Contributed

Wilson said the benefactress said she was from Oklahoma and mentioned she would be flying out of the Florida Keys Marathon International Airport on a private plane. 

“And then I went about my business,” Wilson said. 

Later the woman approached Wilson and asked how many people were working in the kitchen. 

“She could see how many people were working on the floor. I asked her why she wanted to know and she told me it would be a surprise,” Wilson said, “but that I needed to share with all the staff.” 

It was. The credit card slip ended up being handed to a trainee. Wilson said she handed over the receipt with big eyes. 

“I said, ‘Are you kidding me?’”

Fourteen Castaway employees will be sharing in the largesse. Wilson said she’s going to use her portion to pay the bills and put a little aside for an already planned trip to Costa Rica. 

Castaway is a popular waterfront restaurant in Marathon in the Florida Keys owned by John Mirabella, a leader in the Marathon community who personally hunts the lionfish often featured on the menu. On March 16, the guests were additionally entertained by a family of manatees frolicking in the adjacent canal. 

Wilson has been in the Keys for seven years and started working at the eatery just before the pandemic. In addition, she works at a Marathon breakfast restaurant and a steakhouse. 

“I only have one day off a week. I am a busy girl,” she said.

Sara Matthis thinks community journalism is important, but not serious; likes weird and wonderful children (she has two); and occasionally tortures herself with sprint-distance triathlons, but only if she has a good chance of beating her sister.