A romantic dinner out on the town with that special someone is already a perfect way to spend a Valentine’s Day evening. But for Jules on the Green diners this past holiday, dinner got just a bit sweeter when customers started “paying it forward.”
Jules owner Silvio Mazzella said the good deeds started occurring at the beginning of the dinner time crowd, at around 4:30 p.m., when an older couple was seated next to a family with young children. He said the two parties started up a conversation mid-way through the meal, and when the family got up to pay for their dinner, they asked to pay for the couple’s as well.
When the couple went to pay, the server told them their meal had already been taken care of.
“They pretty much almost started to cry, they could not believe it,” Mazzella said.
The couple felt they couldn’t leave the restaurant without paying, so they decided to “pay it forward” and buy the dinner for the table across from them. Mazzella said the bill for that table was more than their original check, but they wanted to pay for it anyway.
Mazella said the trend continued for nine more tables, all the way up to closing time at the restaurant. He said the final customer who had their check paid for in advance was in disbelief, and wanted to pay it forward again. He picked a random table out of the final few to pay for, but upon hearing their check was less than half of his table’s, he decided to pay for the rest of the diners in the restaurant, Mazella said.
“It was so beautiful and so nice, something you never see,” Mazzella said. He added that when he owned a Dunkin’ Donuts franchise, he would see customers from time to time pay for the car behind them, but he’s never seen it happen on such a large scale.
“Some people were paying $250, $300 checks and they were like, ‘nope, happy to do it, it’s special,’” Mazzella said. “And we were just blown away.”
He said the gifts totalled up to about $1,000 at the end of the night.
Musician Jerome Monachino was playing a set at the restaurant during the Valentine’s Day dinner and said he didn’t hear about the good deeds until the end of the night, but said he could tell something was going on while he was performing.
“It was extra enjoyable to be there, but I didn’t know why,” he said. “I think that generosity was somehow palpable in the room, I could feel it.”
Monachino said it was “a beautiful thing” to witness and he was grateful to have been playing at the restaurant when customers started paying it forward.
“It confirms to us that we’re in such a wonderful area and how amazing Essex and the surrounding towns [are],” Mazzella said. “Quite frankly, we were just so proud that it was something that happened in our restaurant.”