Waiter at famous pizzeria returns large check mistakenly left behind by woman who stiffed him for tip

HARLEM, Manhattan (WABC) -- It's a case study in doing the right thing. A woman was eating at a famous New York City pizzeria and stiffed the waiter for a tip over a minor disagreement.

The woman left behind something valuable - worth nearly half a million dollars. What the waiter does next is remarkable.

Strangers at first - Armando Markaj and Karen Vinacour now share a special karma.

Markaj, a waiter for nine years at Patsy's first ran across Vinacour last Saturday when she, her daughter and a real estate agent stopped at the famous First Avenue pizzeria.

"I knew it was a very special restaurant," Vinacour said.

And everyone knows the walls are adorned with pictures of famous people.

"We were talking and chatting away, and then there was this little exchange with the waiter about no women on the wall," Vinacour said.

Markaj's answer?

"There's a bunch of women, and she goes 'not as much as there should be.' Well, summer is coming, probably women don't like to eat pizza as much. You know, sense of humor," he said.

Patsy's Owner Frank Brija says there are plenty of pictures of women.

"We have Barbara Walters, Christine Quinn, we have the First Lady," Brija said.

But when the check came...Vinacour had something else in mind.

"The consensus of opinion was not to give him a tip, and we wrote on the note 'women eat pizza, and by the way, have you heard that women don't leave tips?'" Vinecour said.

But then Markaj spotted an envelope with a cashier's check in it that Vinacour mistakenly left behind.

"It was only $424,000," Markaj said.

Markaj and Brija waited a couple of days with no one coming back for the check until a newspaper reporter doing a story about it tracked down Vinacour.

"I'm glad we had it here for you. It would have been dramatic for a lot of people. She was in tears. She was super excited that someone had found it and kept it," Markaj adds.

"I'm so grateful that the insult that we gave him did not prevent him from doing the right thing," Vinacour said.

She also added that she offered to give Markaj money and he would not accept it - but she does plan to give him a gift certificate toward education supplies.

"Small details like this define us as humans - it's just a small gesture," Markaj added.
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