Carlotta Flores, who owns a Mexican restaurant in Tucson, Arizona, said her son called her one night last week to tell her that she had to come by to pick up an envelope, and that she'd be greatly surprised.
Inside was a handwritten letter from someone said she used to work at the restaurant, El Charro Cafe, in the 1990s and $1,000 cash, according to local reports and photos shared on social media. The person, who did not leave a name, said that while she was working as a waitress and studying at the University of Arizona, she had stolen a few hundred dollars from the restaurant. Now she was trying to make it right.
"One of the waiters I worked with had encouraged me to 'forget' to ring in a few drinks a shift and pocket the cash. And for some stupid reason, I did it," wrote the person, who signed the letter, "A thankful former employee."
"I hadn't stolen a dime before then, nor have I since. Thankfully, I was a terrible waitress and you all fired me before it could amount to more than a few hundred dollars total. It's been 20 years, but I still carry great remorse. I am very sorry that I stole from you. Please accept my apology + this money as a repayment + 20 years of interest."
The remarkable story about El Charro has captured headlines around the Tucson area and beyond. The restaurant, which serves northern Mexico-Sonoran style food and has three locations, has been in operation since 1922. It claims to be the oldest Mexican restaurant in the country to be continuously operated by the same family.
Flores told KVOA that the news of the letter brought tears to the eyes of some of the restaurant's managers. She said that she had recently had her purse stolen, so "this sort of renewed the faith that we have a lot of good people out there."
"I don't know where she's at, who she is, but I will tell you one thing, I hope that she's read or has seen what an impact this has made, not only on me, my family my business, but where it will go in the future," she said.
Flores' son, Ray, posted a photo of the letter on Facebook.
"You don't always have to tell someone who you are to make things right for you both," he wrote. "This made our week!"