05/17/2013 12:23 am ET Updated May 17, 2013

16 Years Later, Man Pays Back New Mexico Restaurant Owner's Good Deed (VIDEO)

A New Mexico restaurant owner has found that good deeds do pay off, even if it takes 16 years.

On Valentine's Day in 1997, Albuquerque restaurateur Claus Hjortkjaer gave a cash-strapped young man a helping hand when he couldn't afford a meal, KOB reports. The patron came up about $40 short for dinner with his date and asked to speak with Hjortkjaer who kindly let him off the hook.

"You don't have to worry about paying it back," Hjortkjaer reportedly told the young man. "I made enough money tonight and that's cool."

According to KOAT, Hjortkjaer later had to close his restaurant, Le Cafe Miche, but he reopened last week and received a visit from the now 30-something man. He was one of the cafe's first new customers and gave Hjortkjaer a $100 bill for his kindness 16 years ago.

"Sometimes it pays off to be a nice guy," Hjortkjaer told KOAT.

In Seattle, a man who stole $20 to $30 from a Sears cash register in the 1940s returned 60 years later with a $100 bill to settle his debt.

Similarly, a thief who stole a couple's wedding rings had a change of heart after 15 years. He sent the rings back to the couple along with a heartwarming apology note that went viral on Reddit. It was signed "A dumb kind who wants to right a wrong."



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