When Donnie Wahlberg walked into the Waffle House in Edgewood early Monday morning, he said something to the effect of "we're hungry, we're good people and we tip well," server Angi Silen recalled.
True to his word, Wahlberg, a member of New Kids on the Block and a star of the television series "Blue Bloods," left the three employees working the Sunday overnight shift - Silen, cook and grill operator Nick Funk and server Tyler Spangler - a $500 tip to be split among them.
"I thought 'Oh wow, he tipped me more than I ever did in a week's pay," Funk, of Abingdon, said.
A "big old bus" pulled into the parking lot of the restaurant, which is just off the I-95/Route 24 interchange, around 2:15 a.m., Silen said, and two groups of four walked in.
She said she heard them say something about pulling off I-95 for something to eat. The band New Kids on the Block, performed at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C., on Sunday night and played in Brooklyn, N.Y., Tuesday night.
"At first, I thought he looked familiar. Then I said to Tyler 'that's one of the Wahlbergs,'" Silen said. "He was really nice, pleasant. He joked around with us a little bit."
Funk was a little worried when he saw the big bus pull up outside, he said, since he was the only cook working Sunday night into Monday morning, typically a quiet time at the restaurant.
Silen and Spangler took a selfie with Wahlberg, who tweeted that he was at Waffle House in "Edgewater:"
"Great crew at @WaffleHouse in Edgewater MD! Thanks for the awesome service! Night made! #WaffleHouse!"
As for the $500 tip, "We weren't expecting it," Silen said.
"I cried. It's a big thing for my family because we're going through tough times," she said.
She said she plans to use her share of $166.67 to help with her rent.
"There's no extras in my world lately," she said.
Funk is starting culinary school July 17, so his unexpected gift will go toward his tuition.
The whole experience, he said, was interesting.
Silen said it was surreal.
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"Me and Tyler shook his hand when he left, but we just left him alone and let him eat," she said. "He was just really nice, really laid back."