Mr. John's Steakhouse owner Desi Vega was shocked when he read that a website was trying to portray New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees as someone who would stiff a waiter or waitress on a tip.
"Drew has come to my restaurants for years and has always been incredibly generous. Whether he is with his family or teammates, he always treats our staff and the other customers well," Vega said Thursday afternoon. "It's always a pleasure having him here because of how respectful he is to everyone in the restaurant."
Vega's comments were echoed by other restaurateurs in New Orleans and Southern California, where the Del Mar Rendezvous Restaurant is located. Someone posted a receipt from that restaurant on the Internet showing Brees had tipped $3 on a $70 takeout order last month.
"Drew has been nothing but a first-class guy here. If anything he over-tips," Ye Olde College Inn owner Johnny Blancher said. "Whenever he comes in, the next time he is here he remembers the name of his previous server and asks about them. He knows the regular customers by their names."
Emeril's Delmonico General Manager Saleem Nawaz said Brees has always been gracious.
"He's always been incredibly respectful and humble with our staff and other customers," Nawaz said.
Brees wasn't aware the receipt had been making the rounds on national television until Thursday morning before practice. He joked with reporters about the matter after his formal press conference had ended. The headline could have been, "Brees tips on takeout orders," he suggested.
On Tuesday he posted a statement to his official Twitter account: "In case anyone still cares about this report: I tipped $3 on a takeout order. Had we sat down it would have been 20%"
Jeffery Strauss, owner and chef of Pamplemousse Grille in Del Mar, another restaurant Brees frequents when his family is in the San Diego area, said 90 percent of customers don't tip anything on to-go orders.
"We look at him like family here. He has been phenomenal. He'll come in and sign things for our staff and says hello to the guys in the kitchen," Strauss said. "We have a very strong relationship. Everyone likes him. The whole thing is so stupid because there is not a better ambassador to football than Drew. You can't name five people that represent the NFL better than Drew."