(ABC News) — Siesta Key Oyster Bar in Sarasota, Florida, has made it a novelty for patrons to write messages on dollar bills and secure them to its ceiling and walls. Now, the establishment is donating thousands to Hurricane Dorian relief.
“After we saw the videos and everything that came out of the Bahamas, it was unreal,” Siesta Key Oyster Bar’s general manager Kristin Hale told “Good Morning America.” “What better reason to pay it forward?”
SKOB has been open for 16 years. The hanging dollar bills have become a well-known aesthetic at the bar-restaurant, in which tourists and locals will leave bills scrawled with dates, names and sweet notes.
“It’s meant for memorabilia,” Hale explained. “We found one — somebody expecting, and wrote ‘baby coming soon’ on the bill — and we started it, and it just took off.”
For one month, 40 SKOB employees carefully removed the money off the walls where it was secured with a heavy duty staple gun. Once word got out of SKOB’s efforts, customers began giving $5 and $20 bills, Hale said.
This week, Hale brought the large container of cash to a local bank, which counted out $13,961.
In the past, sisters and owners Jill Pedigo, Beth Owen-Cipielewski and their husbands would take money off the walls and donate some of it to local charities. Hale said they once gave it to a safe house for battered women.
This time, the money will be given to the American Red Cross for those affected by Hurricane Dorian — a Category 5 storm that killed at least 50 people and left about 76,000 homeless.
“Honestly, I’m shocked, I think the staff is shocked,” said Hale, adding that quite a few bills still dangled from SKOB’s ceiling and walls. “I don’t think we ever expected it to amount [to] that much. Knowing it was such a lump sum of that magnitude is overwhelming.”