Christine Foxwell was surprised to see a restaurant full of police officers, when she entered the Red Robin at Westfield Annapolis mall on Saturday afternoon.
Shortly after her family was seated, Cpl. Chris Kintop approached Foxwell's table and asked if they needed anything to drink.
"Their first question is 'what's going on?'" Kintop said.
He and about a dozen other officers from the Annapolis Police Department spent Saturday serving steak fries and refilling drinks at Red Robin for Tip-A-Cop—an annual Special Olympics fundraiser.
"I think it's really cool," Foxwell said.
Servers took customers' orders while police officers brought refills and bused tables from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday. Patrons were invited to "tip" the cops for their service by making a donation to Special Olympics. About 244 tables opened their pockets and the Annapolis officers raised more than $4,000, according to the police department.
"It has been fantastic," said Sgt. Beth Nelson, the event coordinator for Annapolis police. "It's the first year we are doing credit cards and the tips have been fabulous."
It's the third year the Annapolis department participated, but the seventh year for the nationwide Tip-A-Cop event. It's a partnership between Red Robin and the Law Enforcement Torch Run campaign—which holds a series of events to fundraise for the Special Olympics. On Saturday, cops in 39 states traded in their handcuffs for aprons.
For Detective Ben Keck, it was his first experience in the food service industry.
"I don't know if I could do this everyday," Keck said. "It's a lot of running around."
One of Keck's favorite parts of the day was spending time working with Mike Heup, an athlete from Special Olympics Maryland.
"I told our manager we should hire him," said Ethan Goldberg, a Red Robin server. "He keeps filling up the ice without us having to ask. He's an awesome worker."
Heup stays in shape by competing in the more than 30 events put on each year by Special Olympics Maryland, so he didn't find lugging the ice buckets around too challenging.
"It's easy to do, but you have to keep going back and forth," Heup said. "I love it; it's fun."