The room filled with applause and chatter. The $2,500 tip was an unexpected, yet welcome surprise for the restaurant staff after almost a year of pandemic-impacted service.

Randomly drawn from social media nominations, the Certified Angus Beef ® brand gifted big tips to staff at The City Square Steakhouse of Wooster, Ohio, and Arizona Handcrafted Fare & Drinks of Simpsonville, S.C., as part of #RestaurantChallenge.

The City Square Steakhouse | Wooster, Ohio

The City Square Steakhouse is where many in this small town chose to dine out for the first time since lockdowns. It’s a moment worth celebrating and an atmosphere to celebrate in.

Four spaces, including a patio, a bar and two formal dining rooms with fireplaces, invite guests to the white tablecloth establishment in downtown Wooster. Only one red napkin per table, it’s placed at the chair closest to the city’s courthouse. While the food is divine, the service tops off the experience. Staff are quick to share a smile behind their masks and provide recommendations on the menu.  

The #RestaurantChallenge nominations by guests were one way to say “thank you” to 48 team members who kept their carry-out orders hot, glasses filled, served with a smile and helped turn moments into memories at City Square this last year. 

“We do what we can but it’s not been much of a celebratory year,” says Mike Mariola, owner of The City Square Steakhouse. “For the staff, it’s a welcome sense of appreciation for everything they’ve been doing since COVID hit.”

Arizona Handcrafted Fare & Drink Co. | Simpsonville, South Carolina

Alex Briceño’s uncle opened the original Arizona Steakhouse in 1995 and opened the second, Simpsonville, S.C., location in 2000. She recalls creating her own signature Shirley Temple with her cousin in the original location; little did she know her career would be in the family restaurant business.

In 2013, Briceño took ownership of the Simpsonville location and rebranded the restaurant to its new namesake. The establishment serves fresh fare to its community with hand-cut steaks and scratch-made recipes.

Busy by day and night, the team adapted during shutdowns and regulations. Transitioning to to-go meals, the team found new ways to serve guests. Family-style meals and grill-out packages with house seasonings and marinades are still available in the restaurant today, even though in-restaurant dining capacity is increasing.

“The last year has been full of worry, stress and sacrifice for our staff,” says Briceño. “It’s meaningful to them to know that people see that they are working hard and showing up every day to serve and cook.”

Appreciative for the tip nomination through #RestaurantChallenge, Briceño shares it put an “extra pep in the step” of her team. “For my staff, this tip felt like someone finally saw them and all the work they’ve been doing.”


Restaurants across America will continue to be chosen as part of the #RestaurantChallenge campaign based on nominations from patrons sharing their experiences on Facebook and Instagram. Visit to learn more about how you can nominate your favorite restaurant to win a big tip from the Certified Angus Beef ® brand.