Bartender gives back after man lashes out over mask mandate

Southwest Michigan

PAW PAW, Mich. (WOOD) — A bartender berated by a customer over the statewide mask mandate over the weekend has found a way to turn a bad experience into something positive. 

Sara Austin was working her shift at McCarty’s North 40 in Paw Paw on Friday when she said a customer lashed out at her over having to wear a mask.  

This wasn’t the first time a patron has complained about the policy, but she said this time the exchange was so heated that she began filming the incident on her cellphone. 

“(He was) swearing, calling me names and made it into some sort of political stance,” Austin said.  

After recruiting back up from her boss and other patrons, the customer was told to leave.  

Austin adding that his behavior only got worse after the camera stopped rolling.  

“(He said) that he’d burn the whole building down, threatened to kill the guys that were trying to get him out of here,” Austin said. 

Without things ever getting physical, Austin said the customer left.  

Afterwards, Austin shared the videos of the interaction on social media, hoping it would make others think twice before lashing out at others in the service industry. 

“There are people everywhere and going through this kind of behavior while they’re working and it’s not fair,” she said. “You’re in my office now and you’re going to come to my office and treat me that way — it’s horrifying.” 

Right away, the videos got a big reaction on social media.  

The day after it was posted, the customer, Bob Luyendyk of Kalamazoo, returned to the bar to apologize to Austin.  

Austin refused to see him, so Luyendyk left her an apology note and a hundred dollars.  

The note a man wrote to a bartender he berated in Paw Paw.

Similar to what was written in his note, Luyendyk told News 8 he is very sorry for his behavior, saying his temper got the best of him.  

While Austin doesn’t know whether to accept his apology, she won’t be accepting his money.  

Instead, she took the $100 Luyendyk left for her, matching it with $100 of her own and decided to donate the money to charity.  

Taking it one step further, Austin started an online fundraiser to raise even more money for YWCA Kalamazoo, which was the cause of her choosing.  

“I don’t know what the hundred dollars was for, but I think it went exactly where it should’ve,” Austin said. “I hope he knows that’s where his money is going to that fundraiser. Everyone has been so kind and generous, it’s amazing.” 

For more information about the fundraiser and how you can contribute, visit the fundraiser’s Facebook page.

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