At most of today’s restaurants, it’d probably be hard to find something substantial on the menu for $2. But a homeless man walked into Huey’s in Memphis, Tennessee, hoping to do just that with the little money that he had. And the bartender’s reaction shocked onlookers.
Huey’s has become a Memphis institution since it opened in 1970. For one thing, its burgers have been named the city’s best by readers of Memphis magazine. And there’s live blues, rock and jazz every weekend too.
During the near half-century that the burger joint has been in operation, Huey’s has also developed a tradition of supporting the local community. As such, it regularly supports Memphis charities, schools and other groups.
And it seems as though the restaurant’s charitable practices have influenced Huey’s staff as well. One such employee Tucker Beck has served as bartender at the restaurant’s Poplar Avenue location for around a decade. A native Memphian, Beck was on duty in July 2018 when an unlikely customer sat down in front of him.
“I had never seen him before and haven’t seen him since,” Beck later told WREG. The man walked into Huey’s and sat right at the bar – third stool on the right, the bartender recalled. Like many others, then, he was probably trying to escape the summer heat.
You see, that mid-July day brought with it scorching temperatures – the high was 97 °F. When Beck realized his new customer was homeless, though, he wondered whether the man wasn’t just overheated but also hungry. And that could have been a dangerous combination.
“I would say he was probably starving,” Beck explained. “He probably hadn’t eaten in a day or two. In this heat, you probably would just pass out.” Nonetheless, the man had made it into the bar, and he was ready to eat – except there was one problem.
Beck recalled the man asking, “What can I get for $2?” Sadly, that amount wouldn’t even be enough for a side of french fries, let alone a Huey’s burger. You see, the certified-Angus patties slathered in cheddar cheese cost at least $6.15.
And with years of experience at Huey’s under his belt, Beck most probably knew that $2 wouldn’t go far at the burger joint. But the bartender asked the man for his order anyway. “Well, what would you like?” Beck said.
Beck wasn’t the only one to see what happened next, though. Dawn Wilt was also at the bar, and she observed the bartender’s actions. “Beck, without hesitating, [said], ‘What you want, man? A burger?’” she subsequently wrote in a Facebook post.
But that wasn’t all. Beck also offered the man a choice of fries or onion rings. The bartender put in the man’s order – a burger and a side of onion rings – and he never asked for any money to pay for the meal.
Then Beck offered the man a drink – and, in the 97 °F heat, the choice was clear. “We got him a big ole ice water,” Beck told WREG. And the unlikely customer was clearly excited about his good fortune too.
“He was grinning from ear to ear,” the bartender recalled. “He was so excited.” And Wilt wrote on Facebook that when the man’s food came out, she noticed that “it was way more than he [had] ordered.”
With that, Beck thought that the encounter was over – but Wilt had other plans. She took a photo of Beck working behind the bar and shared it alongside the story of what she had witnessed at Huey’s. And her post quickly went viral.
For Wilt, the choice to share the story appeared to be a simple one. “I say cheers to Beck for having a heart… Made my heart smile. Please share this; Beck deserves it,” she wrote. And more than 1,700 users heeded her request, passing on the post so that more people would see it.
One of Beck’s friends even commented on the post, saying it was typical of the man they knew. “Tucker Beck is the nicest, most wholesome people [sic] you will meet. Will give you anything you need even if he doesn’t have it,” wrote Will Okelly.
For many, the story was a shining example of what society should be like. “We need more people like Beck,” Gigi Ballester wrote. “They make the world a better place.” Others remarked that Wilt’s post had even inspired them to visit the Huey’s where the kind bartender worked.
As for Beck himself, he didn’t think that his actions deserved the hubbub that they’d caused. But he told WREG that he nonetheless understood why the incident had struck a chord. “I think it’s refreshing to see good news,” the bartender said.
Perhaps, though, the attention Beck had received could help him out with something else – identifying the man who’d sat at the Huey’s bar that day. “I’m worried about him,” Beck admitted. “I’d like to find him. I’ve been looking over him.”
Until then, Beck hopes that others will follow his lead and replicate his kindness. “I think it is great if it can help one other person. I think it’s great,” he said. “That’s the main point here.”