BASTROP, Texas - At El Nuevo Mexico, they strive to treat co-workers and customers like family.
After all, being run by six siblings, family is the restaurant's backbone.
"It's all walks of life that come into your restaurant, and you don't know if they're having a bad day or a good day," said Elvia Jaimes, who owns the restaurant alongside her six siblings. "That’s one thing that we take pride in is just welcoming everybody."
Denise Ruiz experienced that welcoming nature when she stopped by for a bite to eat and left with a job. She was freshly out of work and had no prior experience in serving. One of the owners offered to hire her on the spot.
"He told me, 'I will train you,'" she said. "'I will teach you everything you need to know.'"
Eight years later, co-workers have become her family, and so have regular customers, including a man named Robert.
Robert came by the Bastrop restaurant one day in June and did something unexpected, covering the tab for everyone in the restaurant and then leaving a $10,000 tip.
After thinking it over, the owners decided to post about it on social media months later.
"Now that the year has ended, we just felt very grateful," said Jaimes. "We thought, let's share it, an act of kindness, just to show that there are still good people out there."
Robert came back the following day in June, too. Ruiz was working her shift at the time.
The first tip from "Robert" ( )
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"I was like, ‘Where's your mom?’ and he was like, ‘Denise she passed away,’" said Ruiz. "And I started crying because I would serve them (both) breakfast on Sunday morning after church."
Through their routine and subsequent bond, Robert had also learned that Ruiz's son was going through cancer treatment.
He left a second $10,000 tip on his bill that day. He told Ruiz to take a trip with her son, David, when he fully recovered.
"It made me cry because you see that no longer [is it] just a restaurant or customers - they’re family," she said.
The second tip from "Robert" ( )
Ruiz hopes that someday she and her son can go on that trip. But the $10,000, she couldn’t help but share with her co-workers, more family that had supported her in their own way throughout her son’s cancer treatment and other hardships.
In sharing, Ruiz hopes others will be inspired to their own acts of kindness, whether large or small.
"You realize that there is a God when you see actions like that, that are not selfish with no motive and that’s beautiful in this world that’s so chaotic right now," she said.