Fact Check

Did President Obama 'Stiff' the Wrong Waiter?

A fake news item claimed President Obama failed to tip a prominent Chicago businessman filling in as a waiter at Lawry's.

Published Apr 7, 2017

Steak dinner with mashed potatoes (Flickr)
Steak dinner with mashed potatoes (Image Via Flickr)
President Obama failed to tip a steakhouse waiter who was actually a prominent restauranteur.

On 7 April 2017, the web site The Last Line of Defense claimed that former U.S. President Barack Obama "stiffed" a waiter who was in fact a well-known restaurant owner in the process of doing a good deed:

Obama was out to dinner with several members of his Deep State shadow government last night when his waiter made a political joke. The joke outed the waiter as a patriotic American who voted for Donald Trump. Obama, who asked the waiter to keep his politics to himself, then made a huge mistake. He stiffed the waiter out of his tip on a nearly $200 meal.

As it turned out, however, that waiter was actually William Stanton Lawry, owner of the Lawry’s Prime Rib restaurants and one of the most influential businessmen in Chicago. He was filling in for a waiter who was at the hospital for the birth of his child.

According to publicists for the restaurant, Lawry was filling in for the waiter as a matter of good will and donating the tips as well as an equal company match to the new dad. In stiffing the supposed waiter, Obama may have cost a new parent $80 he could have used for diapers and food. Luckily, Lawry is a good man who would never let that happen. He donated the entire cost of the meal instead.

Lawry's is owned by the families of its founders, but their web site makes no reference to a William Stanton Lawry, and an online search for the name turns up nothing but the article about Obama stiffing the waiter. The Last Line of Defense is an unabashed fake news site whose disclaimer admits:

The Resistance may include information from sources that may or may not be reliable and facts that don’t necessarily exist. All articles should be considered satirical and any and all quotes attributed to actual people complete and total baloney. Pictures that represent actual people should be considered altered and not in any way real.

The article's image of a receipt was swiped from an unrelated March 2016 viral Facebook post about waitstaff stiffed on tips.

Kim LaCapria is a former writer for Snopes.