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CREVE COEUR, Mo. – A local business owner’s random act of kindness leaves a restaurant in disbelief. Employees and guests at Pasta House were shocked by Jim Freeman’s decision to pay it forward.

Freeman, who runs his own contracting company, was picking up his to-go order when he had a feeling. That feeling led him to pay the tab for everyone in the restaurant. Then he went a step further.

“God says you’re supposed to pay it forward, so if you’re in a position to do that once in a while, why not,” he said.

On Monday night, Freeman picked up spaghetti and meatballs, along with some pork chops, at the Pasta House in Creve Coeur. When he was ready to pay, something came over him.

“I turned around and everything looked normal for the first time in a long time,” Freeman said. “I asked one of the gals if I could buy the restaurant dinner. I live here, it’s my community. Restaurant folks been hurting with COVID. It seemed like the right thing to do.”

The guests had no idea.

“I asked them not to tell them who bought dinner. I said, ‘Let’s just handle it,’ and I came on home and had my spaghetti and my pork chops,” Freeman said.

Kelly Johnson, who has worked at Pasta House for 20 years, was equally shocked when Freeman went a step further – a $500 tip for each server.

“In all the years I’ve worked for Pasta House, this is the first time I’ve ever seen anything like this happen,” Johnson said.

Pasta House general manager Jeff Maddox couldn’t believe it either.

“That put a lot of smiles on a lot of people’s faces,” he said. “I mean, it was unbelievable the reaction and response we were getting from our guests last night.”

As for how much Freeman spent in total?

“Doesn’t really matter, does it?” he said.