Mysterious Florida Veteran Buys $40K Bottle of Whiskey to Save Struggling Restaurant

Rarity is a strange thing.  In many cases it can add value to an item, while, at the same time imbuing a certain sentimental anchor that makes the mathematical worth seem irrelevant.  What’s rarer is the example in which the value adds something to the sentimentality.

Let’s use a bottle of rare whiskey for an example.  There is value in its rarity, sure, but that value varies widely from person to person.  For some, the most divine action the whiskey can provide is to grace your pallet and spill whatever secrets it’s hiding.  For others, simply owning the whiskey is enough – as it allows them to feel like they hold a big stake in something special.

In desperate times, however, such unique spirits can be worth simply whatever you can get for them, and there are always concerns that someone who wouldn’t truly appreciate the product will take advantage of those who need the moolah but not the hooch.

In Florida this week, quite the opposite has occurred.

Like many in the restaurant industry, Suzanne and Roger Perry saw their business — Datz Restaurant Group in Tampa, Florida — take a huge hit because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Across the US, states have ordered the closure of bars and restaurants to help curb the spread of the virus. Some restaurants have completely shut down, others have transitioned to pick-up or delivery only, and a handful have resorted to creative options — including selling groceries or including toilet paper in their food orders — to keep their businesses afloat.

“(Our employees are) family now,” Suzanne Perry told CNN. “We’ve watched their children grow up and they’ve done absolutely nothing wrong, but we can’t protect them. There’s absolutely nothing we can do. We can’t pay people when we have no revenue.”

So as a last resort, the couple decided to sell the most valuable item in the restaurant’s inventory: A 25-year-old bottle of Old Rip Van Winkle bourbon.

Internet research suggested that the bottle could fetch between $17,000 and $26,000, and once the couple had a buyer lined up at the lower end of that spectrum, the unthinkable happened.

“A woman called and I spoke to her husband,” Suzanne Perry told CNN. “He’s a veteran. He appreciates bourbon and he wanted to add it in his collection and they decided that they would purchase it. We were very happy about that.”

Instead of buying it online, however, the man insisted that he would buy it in person with a cashier’s check.

“He drove it in the next morning and handed Roger the check,” Suzanne Perry said. “Roger looked at it and saw that rather than what would have been $17,000 with the discount that we had offered, the check was written for $40,000.”

The couple thought it was a mistake, so they tried to give the check back — but the man said he wanted them to keep it, according to Suzanne Perry.

“I was so moved by that,” Suzanne Perry recalled. “It was really touching that someone would reach so far into their own pocket to help us survive this.”

With the American restaurant industry struggling mightily during this era of social distancing, we can only hope that more good samaritans will be inspired by the still-anonymous veteran.