Restaurant customer leaves waitresses $50,000 'tip' in will

NEW YORK -- Waitress Maureen Barrie knew regular costumer Robert Ellsworth's favorite: the open-faced grilled cheese with bacon. What she didn't know was that he had a couple favorite waitresses, who he left $50,000 each in his will.

Ellsworth, a self-made millionaire art mogul, remembered Barrie -- and her niece, also named Maureen Barrie -- after he passed away. Both women work at Donohue's Steak House in New York's Upper East Side, which Ellsworth frequented.

"Very down-to-earth, very nice, he'd help anybody," the elder Barrie said. "At Christmastime he'd tip the entire staff, from the dishwasher right out to the buspeople."

As famous as the self-made multimillionaire was in the Asian art market, his humble demeanor was equally extraordinary. Known as "The King of Ming," Ellsworth never graduated high school and requested everyone call him "Bob." His estate came in around $200 million.

Another Donohue's regular, James Meiskin, said the place was like a second home to Ellsworth.

"It was definitely an extension of his house, and his family," he said.

Next door at Barbaresco, they loved him, too! He would drive up in his limo, come in and sit with his driver for dinner. No money was left to anyone there, though.

In the meantime, Barrie admits there is something she would like more than the $50,000.

"You know," she said, "I'd much rather have him here than have the money."
Copyright © 2020 WTVD-TV. All Rights Reserved.