Applebee's Server Returns $32,000 Family Accidentally Left Behind

| by Kathryn Schroeder
Hundred Dollar BillsHundred Dollar Bills

A server at an Applebee’s restaurant in Fresno, California, returned a bag with $32,000 left behind by customers.

The server refused to be interviewed by ABC 30, but told his managers he just did the right thing.

On Dec. 16, Erika and Bertha Gonzalez left the $32,000, earned from a family business that includes rental properties and a Northern California restaurant, in a booth at the restaurant, according to ABC 30. They were able to collect their money after the server turned it into police.

"I think she took it out when she took out her wallet to pay and she didn't put it back in her bag," Erika said.

The mother and daughter had collected the money that day and had not planned to carry it around with them.

"We were going to deposit it to the safe box and they told us they didn't have any available," Erika said.

Erika and Bertha realized they had forgotten the money that evening.

"Very scared," Erika said. "I didn't know how to tell my dad."

They contacted the police and detective Sammy Ashworth verified that the money belonged to them.

“They described the bag that it was in and the denomination, and I determined that, yes, it was their money," Ashworth said. "It was legally obtained, and they were just an average working family that had made a mistake and left their money behind in a restaurant."

Applebee’s plans to reward the server, but area director for the restaurant chain, Carrie Hellyer, is unsure he will accept.

“He made it very clear that he did it because it was the right thing to do, not that he wanted anything in return,” Hellyer said.

Given the fact that there are no surveillance cameras in the area where the family was seated, Applebee’s says the employee’s integrity is even more remarkable.

"That's a lot of money,” Hellyer said. "That's more than a year's salary for many of our employees and to have the knee-jerk reaction immediately be, 'Let's find a way to get this back to who it belongs to,' I'm very fortunate."

According to, the typical salary for an Applebee's server is $4 per hour, or $21,204 annual salary. The amount does not include tips.

The Gonzalez family wants to thank the server and police for returning the money to them. They also hope the server will accept some form of reward.

"I am so glad they found it,” Erika said. "I really appreciate it."

"I told them their next stop had better be the bank,” Ashworth said. "Or at least somewhere safe where that money can be stored."

Sources: ABC 30, / Photo credit: Pictures of Money/Flickr