San Diego Barista To Receive More Than $100,000 "Tip" Following Viral Face Mask Outburst From Customer

July 1, 2020

Eight days ago, we broke the story of a San Diego Starbuck's barista who was in for a big tip ($8,000 at the time of publication) after a GoFundMe in his honor was launched following a viral post from a disgruntled "Karen" who he denied service to for refusing to wear a face covering as required by local and state mandates. More than one week later, the crowd-sourced campaign has raised more than $100,000 for the young man who wants to open a dance studio for children with the money.

The GoFundMe campaign for Starbucks barista Lenin Gutierrez, whose made national news following an altercation with a woman refusing to wear a mask, reached $100,155 as of 6:35pm yesterday, far exceeding its original goal of $1,000. On June 22 at 10:38am, Amber Lynn Gilles made a Facebook post about her experience at a Starbuck's in San Diego's Clairemont Mesa neighborhood, which now has has 117,000 likes, 131,000 comments and more than 50k shares. 

"Meet lenen from Starbucks who refused to serve me cause I’m not wearing a mask," posted Ms. Gilles on her Facebook page. "Next time I will wait for cops and bring a medical exemption."

Ms. Gilles' Facebook went viral over the past week, with news outlets covering the "Karen" incident all over the country. Following the post, a GoFundMe campaign entitled "Tips for Lenin Standing Up To A San Diego Karen" was launched with the sole purpose of providing gratitude to the Starbuck's employee, Lenin, "for his honorable effort standing his ground when faced with a Karen in the wild". According to Urban Dictionary, a Karen is a "stereotypical name associated with rude, obnoxious and insufferable middle aged white women." The term has substantially gained in popularity in 2020.

When we initially published our story on the morning of June 23, the GoFundMe had raised just over $8,000 from over 700 people from around the world in less than 24 hours. The campaign is now at $101,050 from over 7.5k donors. 24 year-old Lenin, who is an avid dancer, hopes to use the money to follow his dance dreams and eventually open his own dance studio to teach children. The GoFundMe was started by Matt Cowan, a 26-year-old who doesn't know Gutierrez personally, but started the campaign because he was upset that the barista was "being bullied for doing the right thing."

Due to COVID-19 precautions, since May 1, San Diego County has required the wearing of face coverings when entering any business open to the public. Just this past week, California Governor Gavin Newsom made it a statewide mandate that facial coverings be worn while in public or high-risk settings. We published an article recently called "How Should Restaurants & Businesses Approach Those Who Do Not Wear Face Coverings" to assist businesses in dealing with noncompliant customers.