Dunkin' Throws Birthday Party for Their Favorite 81-Year-Old Customer in Parking Lot


In Concord, California, there is a family unit that involves an elderly couple and the staff at a local Dunkin’ Donuts.

Gilbert “Gil” Walker, who was formerly a high school athletics coach and business teacher, has lived in Concord for 57 of his 81 years of life. But he says he’s never experienced anything like this spot.

He used to be a regular at Peet’s Coffee, but that all changed earlier this year when he gave Dunkin’ a try and immediately knew something was different.

“It had a different feel about it,” he told People. “The [employees] were so wonderful and so nice and friendly. … When I retired in 2000, the only thing I missed was the kids and when I saw these employees, it reminded me of the kids I had in school.”

Every day, he and his wife head to Dunkin‘ and order their standard fare: He gets an iced coffee and a maple bar, and she gets a special iced chai tea latte that has been named after her.

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But they don’t pay. And not for lack of trying, either.

There is a merry war between Walker and Dunkin’, something the owner calls “an incredible game of wits,” where Walker tries to pay and the staff adamantly refuses to take his money. Lighthearted parries are exchanged and there’s even a sign from the management that reads “ATTENTION: Anyone who lets ‘Grandpa’ pay is terminated immediately.”

Walker has thrown cash in the window and driven off. The staff has given him “change” but when he counts it, it’s the same amount he originally handed them, just in smaller bills.

That’s because the staff and the Walkers have grown close during a time when most have felt more pushed away and more distanced than ever. When Walker heard earlier in the year, after discovering his new favorite spot, that owner Matt Cobo was going to have to cut employee hours to keep the business afloat, he took it to heart.

Walker showed up with an envelope of cash, bringing $20 for each employee — a total of $280 dollars.

“I decided to do what I could to help out a little bit,” Walker said. “Life has been good to my wife [Virginia] and I, here in Concord. … We’re retired teachers, we’re not rich, but we have enough to share with what we have.”

“Every day, I’m greeted with warmness and love and affection, and it’s just amazing,” he added. “I saw a way to give back a little and I couldn’t think of a nicer group of kids than what I was experiencing at Dunkin’, and I think Matt has a lot to do with that.”

“It took my breath away,” Cobo said of the generous gift. “We didn’t know how to respond. This was new to all of us.”

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And their bond grew. Everyone knows Walker and looks forward to seeing him. They’ve even thrown a birthday party for him and an anniversary party for him and his wife.

Cobo said that their cheer and kindness is the pick-me-up they all need on the daily.

“We love seeing him,” Cobo said. “So many of us are running on emotional empty right now, especially in the restaurant industry, so to have someone who’s 81 years old pull up to the drive-thru and get everyone excited like little kids, he’s that emotional filler up.”

“What’s so incredible for me is how the relationship with Grandpa continues to surprise me to this day,” he said. “It’s like this story that doesn’t have an ending, it just keeps getting better and more interesting.”

“This guy has given us so much,” he continued. “He’s just an amazing guy. He’s funny, he’s caring. … He thinks he’s getting more out of it, but really we get more out of it.”

“The warmth of that place is incredible,” Walker added. “Every time, I roll up to the service window, there are four or five kids hanging out saying, ‘It’s Grandpa!’ It’s a great greeting.”

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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