Virginia Restaurant Responds To Offensive Customer Note With Love And Pride

You can't pay with hate.

A community in Virginia is rallying around a restaurant after a couple left a xenophobic comment on a receipt for a Latina waitress.

Last week, 18-year-old Sadie Karina Elledge was working her shift at Jess' Lunch in Harrisonburg when she received a signed receipt for a $26.11 food order. Instead of leaving a tip, the couple wrote on the check, "We only tip citizens."

Elledge, who was born in the United States, immediately told her manager what had happened.

"I went up to my boss — everybody was upset, I was upset," she told PEOPLE. "It shouldn't matter if I'm Latina or not, everybody should be treated with respect and be treated the same."

Her grandfather, John Elledge, photographed the receipt and shared it on Facebook.

After the Facebook photo went viral, the couple who wrote the racist remark reportedly returned to Jess' Lunch to complain about the social media post. Angeliki Floro, the restaurant's owner and an immigrant from Greece, banned the couple from the restaurant.

In a Facebook post published on Monday, Floro thanked her customers for their support and proudly embraced her restaurant's immigrant heritage.

"Jess' Lunch is one of the oldest established businesses in Harrisonburg, it was built by immigrants run by immigrants and loved by its community," she wrote. "We have and always will stand behind our decisions. We believe all people should treated equally, we have no animosity toward our fellow man, we treat everybody with the same respect no matter where they're from."

"I'm completely surprised and overwhelmed by the response I received from a single post," Floro wrote to A Plus. "If you never lived in another country, then you cannot understand how beautiful America is. The rights that I have as an American citizen for a woman [is an amazing] force to be reckoned with."

Mike Donovan, the CEO of an immigrant support organization called Nexus Services, was so inspired by Elledge's incredible story that he offered her a two-year scholarship at Blue Ridge Community College. According to Donovan, she accepted the scholarship.

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