Leading Norfolk restaurant the Lavender House in Brundall was hit by an armed robber late on Sunday night.
The attacker struck at 11.15pm as the restaurant's cleaner Margaret Crouch was walking through the car park.
He grabbed hold of her and stuck a sawn-off shot gun under her neck, after which he demanded entry to the building and any cash on the premises.
The thief escaped with only 37p in the victim's purse as the business, which is owned by chef proprietor Richard Hughes, is closed on Sunday and takings had recently been banked.
Crouch, 47, who has been with the restaurant for 14 years, was left shaken but otherwise unhurt. The attacker was wearing a hood and had a mask covering his face.
Seven armed police response units attended the scene and staff were unable to occupy the building for two days.
Hughes said: "It's such a quiet area and we just can't believe it has happened. We used to have a restaurant in a busy city and had problems there but you just don't expect it in the middle of the Norfolk Broads."
The Lavender House is now back up and running.
By Alix Young