Working in the service industry is more than just taking customer’s orders and hoping for a good tip. There’s a lot of spinning plates — literally.

Servers are typically on their feet for their entire shift. If the restaurant is short-staffed and busy? Shifts can often last 12 or 14 hours.

The holidays are coming up, if you’re eating out, this is your reminder to tip well!

Servers routinely handle heavy trays, deal with rude customers (whoever came up with the saying ‘the customer is always right,’ never worked a double on New Years Eve), and are exposed to all kinds of potential diseases and sickness on a daily basis.

If you’ve ever been a server, you get it. If you haven’t — trust that it’s not as “easy” as it looks, that’s just a sign you have an experienced server. A lot of the job is providing service with a smile — and looking good while doing it. But there’s one restaurant chain in particular that gives “looking good” a whole new meaning.

Of all the restaurants a server could work at, Hooters may be the most infamous for its controversial uniform (and name). But one waitress who works at the contentious chain proved, that even though she may have big…hooters? She has an even bigger heart.

The Lengths One Waitress Went for Customer Service

Hooters server with an elderly man
Instagram/ Mariana_Tolentino7

For a restaurant that’s primarily known for keeping the booty shorts industry alive and their world famous “naked” chicken wings (honestly top tier eats) — an unexpected act of altruism emerged from such an unlikely place.

“I said, I have two kidneys…do you want one of mine?”

Mariana Villarreal

Mariana Villarreal, works at a Hooters restaurant in Roswell, Georgia. The 22-year-old woman recently made headlines when it was discovered that she offered one customer, the gift of a lifetime…the gift of life, that is!

When Mariana Villarreal had learned, a “regular” Donald Thomas was going through a health crisis, she sprung into action. 72-year-old Donald Thomas is a war veteran, who lost his beloved wife to cancer. It was a tragic twist of fate when the longtime patron lost not one, but two of his kidneys — to cancer.

For Mariana, it was a no brainer.

At 22 years old the incredible waitress made the brave choice to donate one of her kidneys to a longtime Hooters guest, 50 years her senior. Of course, the next step was a bit more complicated. Mariana and Don needed to know if they were a viable match. The kindney donor transplant waitlist can be anywhere from 3 to 5 years. In light of Don’s dire situation, he didn’t have that kind of time to lose.

They Were a “Perfect” Match

Finding a kidney donor match is no easy task. Statistics say siblings have a 25% chance of being an “exact” match — not exactly comforting odds. With no living relatives to lean on, the cards were stacked against Don. Thankfully, luck was in his corner!

Despite their large age gap, the pair were thrilled when doctors told them they were able to move forward with the surgery. Tests had confirmed they were the “perfect match.”

For a pretty terrifying scenario and daunting procedure, the results couldn’t have been any better. Villarreal and Thomas both successfully underwent surgeries at the Piedmont Transplant Institute in Atlanta.

woman in the hospital
Instagram/ Mariana_Tolentino7

Not only was Mariana’s kidney a perfect match but doctors were reportedly amazed by how quickly Thomas’ kidney began functioning post-surgery!

Villarreal’s incredible and quick act of bravery not only inspired her Hooters family, but her incredible story spread quickly and has touched many lives around the world.

Watch The Full Video Here:

She Did It for Her Grandmother

Villarreal admits, Donald’s story resonated with her so deeply, because recently she lost a dear family member to kidney failure — her grandmother.

Mariana hadn’t been working at Hooters for very long when she offered Donald one of her kidneys. In fact, Donald revealed the two didn’t even know each other that well when she came to his aid. Her surprising act may have left more than one person scratching their head, but Mariana revealed Donald’s health crisis was one that was so close to her heart.

“I wasn’t able to do anything for my grandma,” Mariana said, getting emotional. “If he can live two more years, happiest he’s ever been, that’s completely fine to me. It’s not up to me, I did my part. Now it’s God’s part to keep him alive.”

This selfless act of kindness transcends the boundaries of familiarity, proving that compassion can come in the most unexpected places. It’s a shame some people look down on those who tirelessly slave away in the service industry — you can’t measure someone’s kindness by their paycheck or profession. Mariana’s beautiful story reminds us it’s important not to judge a book by its cover.

Thankfully, this story has an even happier ending, when Hooters put a new spin on the old saying — sometimes those who give the most are the ones with the most to spare!

The Hooters Family Doubled Down on Kindness and Donated Thousands to Charity

Hooters gave a whole new meaning to service with a smile. In a press release, Hooters shared how Mariana’s heroic act inspired them so much that they decided to do their part. Let me to tell you, it was no small feat.

The restaurant chain donated $20,000 to the National Kidney Foundation, serving Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi, in Mariana Villarreal’s name!

“Mariana is an absolute inspiration, and we’re honored to call such a selfless and compassionate person one of our own.”

Terry Marks, Hooters CEO

It’s no secret the restaurant chain has recieved its fair share of backlash. Hooters came under fire after some staff took to TikTok to mock their new uniforms. However, it seems Hooters works even harder offset their unconventional business model, by giving back, big time.

Critics of the chain may not know this, but “Hooters Girls” support and raise funds for a number of partners and nonprofit organizations that directly impact the local communities Hooters serves!

The restaurant has raised over $10 million to local and national non-profits. Just last year, the chain raised over $660,000 for Breast Cancer Research.

In the world of service industry superheroes, where kindness often goes unrecognized, Hooters not only redefined service with a smile but also proved that actions speak louder than uniforms.