SOUTHAVEN, Miss. — A Southaven Olive Garden employee is off the job after customers say he lied about having cancer to get bigger tips.
WREG spoke with three people who all had similar stories of feeling like they were tricked by this waiter, but police told them the waiter can’t face charges since they willingly gave him the money.
“We all felt sorry for him,” said Steven Blake Hughes.
Hughes said he was celebrating a friend’s birthday there in October when the service was below average.
He said his waiter told him he had a lot going on his life, including his cancer coming back.
“He kept going and kept going and kept going like we’re supposed to feel more sorry for him, so when we were going to leave a tip, we were going to leave this huge tip.”
Hughes says he shook it off as an odd meal.
He couldn’t believe it when he saw social media posts circulating this week with similar stories and a man’s picture, Jason Kisner, linked as being the waiter.
“I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh, that is the gentleman that talked to me,'” he said.
A woman told WREG a similar incident happened last month. She said she doubled his tip after he sighed deeply and revealed a fight with cancer.
She said a red flag went up when she heard him bragging to another waiter about getting a $100 tip the night before.
“That’s just not ethical,” said Hughes.
Then another woman posted how her mother tipped the waiter $100 this week after hearing his struggle with cancer.
“I’ve had family members and I’ve had friends that have died from cancer and it infuriated me at first.”
But their complaints led to resolution. Olive Garden released a statement saying Kisner’s actions are inconsistent with their company’s values and he no longer works for them.
WREG went to Kisner’s address to get his side of the story, but no one answered the door.
“I’m glad what had happened happened but at the same time, he needs help.”
Kisner has been arrested in the past for shoplifting and conspiracy to unlawfully possess a motor vehicle, but Olive Garden told WREG his criminal record didn’t disqualify him from the job.
He was hired in February.