Mystery Couple Starts "Magical" Chain Reaction

For five hours, strangers bought each other meals at a Philly diner

By Danielle Johnson
|  Monday, Dec 14, 2009  |  Updated 12:50 PM EDT
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One woman who has worked at the Aramingo Diner for more than 30 years said she'd never seen anything like it.

NBC Philadelphia / Dawn Timmeney

One woman who has worked at the Aramingo Diner for more than 30 years said she'd never seen anything like it.

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It played like a scene from a holiday movie -- a mystery couple, who didn’t leave their names or numbers, walked into a restaurant, finished their meal and then set-off a chain reaction of generosity that lasted for hours.

That’s just what employees at the Aramingo Diner in Port Richmond said a man and a woman did during their breakfast shift last Saturday morning.

“It was magical. I had tears in my eyes because it never happened before. I’ve been here for 10 years and I’ve never seen anything like that,” said Lynn Willard, a waitress.

Willard and other waitresses told NBC Philadelphia that the couple started the chain reaction by paying double: for their own meal and for the tab of another table of diners at the restaurant. There's no evidence that one group of diners knew the others.

“I could not believe it … and it continued and continued, it was very nice,” said Willard. “They asked us not to say anything until they left, but we said ‘Merry Christmas, that person picked up your tab.’”

For the next five hours, dozens of patrons got into that same holiday spirit and paid the favor forward.

The diner’s manager said not one person was concerned about price of the check -- which averaged between $12-$30.

“It was a surprise to all of us, the girls were even taken aback,” said Linda. “Those who took the check also tipped the waitress. So nobody had to do anything other than pass it on and that’s what they did. They just passed it forward.”

It’s a true holiday story that proves how a small gesture of kindness can create some magic.

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