The staff of Donohue’s on New York’s Upper East Side received a surprising gift from long-time customer, Robert Ellsworth, following his death in May. The millionaire art collector left the bar a massive “thank you” in the form of a generous $100,000 tip.
Run by an Irish-American family with County Galway roots, the bar was a favorite of Ellsworth’s. He frequented it at least four times a week, returning time and time again for his grilled cheese sandwich or omelet for lunch, and steak for dinner.
The millionaire left $50,000 to Donohue’s owner Maureen Donohue-Peters (53) and another $50,000 to her niece Maureen Barrie (28), who works at the bar as a waitress one night a week.
Ellsworth, 85, who recently passed away following a fall, knew the bar's owner since she was a little girl.
"The man was witty and fun,” Donohue told the Independent. “He knew me when I was in diapers, so there's a whole history there. To me, he was Bob. He wasn't Mr. Ellsworth, this big guy."
"I got a call from his office and they said Mr Ellsworth had left me something. Then a lady came in and she showed me the paperwork. I was shocked – I didn't expect anything."
Donohue-Peters says she plans to upgrade her boat with the unexpected windfall.
The Lexington Avenue bar has also played host to other famous faces, although the bar focuses on maintaining its home-like atmosphere.
"Bruce Springsteen has been in, as well as Jimmy Fallon and Gabriel Byrne. I didn't talk to Bruce too much, I really didn't know it was him. Then all of a sudden he got up to leave and came over to talk to me and I was like, 'Woah, that's who he is'," Donohue-Peters said.
"Going here is like coming home to family. It doesn't matter what you do or what you make," she added.
* Originally published in 2015.