Knowledgeable people say generosity has been one of the most essential keys to our survival. Over weekend, a person eating at the Whaling City Diner in New Bedford wanted to do something generous for all the patrons in the popular eatery – and she quietly paid for the breakfasts of everyone in the diner.

Justine Rocheleau, who has worked at the diner for the past nine years, was astonished and startled at the same time for what this quiet woman did.

"I was so busy! I had 12 tables, and then there's this woman sitting by herself, nice as pie. When the time came, I thanked her and gave her her check," Rocheleau said. Described as being in her late 40s, the woman then walked up to Elsa DeFaria, who with her husband, Chef Doug Sterling, owns and operates Whaling City Diner.

The woman had been dining alone, and the dining room was full, in addition to four additional tables filled in the atrium.

"She came over to me and said she would like to buy the entire restaurant breakfast," DeFaria said. "I was taken by surprise. I called my waitress over and asked for all her checks and explained why."

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"The woman explained to me how she has no children and not much of a family. She didn't want to be acknowledged. She just wanted to share some joy and happiness. She paid on her card and left a very generous tip," DeFaria said.

Sterling, famous for his marinara sauce, couldn't leave the busy grill, but yelled out that what happened was awesome and a blessing for the diner.

The customers were both stupefied and shocked simultaneously.

"Everyone couldn't believe what happened," said Rocheleau. "Then one of the tables that had their meals paid for did the same for a party that came in late and missed it all. It's such a great feeling to see people care for other people."

Fellow server Sarah Souza said that feeling has been ongoing throughout the holiday season.

"Even with COVID and everything else, most people are still so good," she said. "Last week, a party of 12 came in. Everyone was so cheerful. When it was time to settle up, they paid their bill and said to have a very merry Christmas, handing me $1,200 in cash for a tip."

"I burst out in tears right there. I couldn't help it," she said. "Some in the party also started crying with me."

DeFaria said after they left, she asked her friends on Facebook about the club.

"They call themselves the Twelve-Hundred Dollar Club. They choose a restaurant to visit, and after eating, always leave $1,200 as a tip. Then they pass out free lottery instant tickets. My faith in humanity has been restored."

Whaling City Diner is getting quite the reputation as being the place where good things happen. First, there was a visit from The King of Queens star Kevin James back in September, and now these acts of kindness show that even everyday people can visit and spread goodwill.


"With tears all around, we thanked them so much, and they left happy, wishing us a Merry Christmas. We are so truly blessed," DeFaria said.

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