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Cracker Barrel worker says he was fired after giving away roll, condiments

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VENICE, Fla. – A 73-year-old veteran said he was fired from a Florida Cracker Barrel restaurant for giving a needy man a few condiment packets and a corn muffin.

He admitted it was against the restaurant’s rules, but said he thought it was the right thing to do.

Joe Koblenzer worked at yellow Cracker Barrel for three years.

“It’s a fun job. A job really suited to me,” Koblenzer said.

Two weeks ago the 73-year-old said a man who looked like he might be homeless came through the doors.

“He looked a little needy. He asked if I had any mayonnaise and some tartar sauce. He said he was going to cook a fish,” Koblenzer said.

The man whose job it is to be friendly obliged.

“I got it for him. As I walked out I put a corn muffin in,” Koblenzer said.

That gesture apparently cost Koblenzer his job.

“The general manager called me in and said he had some bad news for me. ‘Joe we are going to have to let you go,’” Koblenzer said.

Koblenzer  admitted he’s been written up before. Two years ago for getting a fountain drink on the job and a second time for giving a cup of coffee to woman. He claims she actually paid for it.

Rules are rules.

“It’s a rule. They legally can do this because I did break the rule,” Koblenzer said.

Now the Vietnam vet who was trying to supplement his social security is the one down on his luck.

“Hurt me? Oh yeah it has,” Koblenzer said.

The debate over the seriousness of the event and the subsequent firing has started a fire storm online.

In recent days the story has gotten out on Facebook. Pages like the Venice Scoop and even the restaurant’s own page.

While some are saying it’s the company’s right, the establishment’s reviews have plummeted with more than 30 negative comments about the firing.

“I feel badly it shines a bad light on the company. I would not want that on any company but it happened,” Koblenzer said.

Koblenzer said he’s sad over the situation and misses the regulars and employees he’s gotten to know.

He said he is looking for a new job, but not quite sure yet what he will do.

A Cracker Barrel spokesperson provided the following statement:

“During the time he was employed, he violated the company’s policies regarding consuming food without paying or giving away free food, on five separate occasions.

Mr. Koblenzer received multiple counselings and written warnings reminding him about the company’s policies and the consequences associated with violating them.

Cracker Barrel is grateful for and honors Mr. Koblenzer’s service to our country as we honor all service men and women and their families.”

Source: CNN/WWSB


  • Gerry

    They have declined and their general store is a ripoff designed to allure to children. Heck they don’t even offer military discounts. So far for valuing service.

  • Mo Fiscal conservatism

    Being a veteran really doesn’t have anything to do with it. You were caught stealing, twice. Regardless of the price of the item stolen, you can’t trust a thief. How do they know you haven’t taken other things, just never got caught? While at a lot of other restaurants this wouldn’t be a dismissal offense, it is here. If you were fired for helping a handicapped person to their car because you left your station, I might get behind you. But you can never trust a thief and trust is the number one thing you need in employees.

      • david

        OSo are you saying it would be ok to walk into a bank and steal money from the teller? As long as i use it to give it to a needy person?

    • Terry

      Mo….lighten up. Don’t be so rigid, I hope you never have children, because you have to bend on a lot so issues when it comes to a matter of the heart. Also, you should hope that someone doesn’t treat your mother, father or anyone you sincerely love the way this gentleman of honor has been treated. Shame on you.

  • Bryant

    If a person was desperate enough to go into a restaurant to ask for a packet of mayo or tarter sauce , he must have been in a hard spot. I applaud the employee for reaching out to help. My God, Cracker Barrel
    can certainly afford to share 2 condiment packages and corn muffin, I wonder how many muffins and biscuits go in the trash because the patrons didn’t eat them all. Shame on Cracker Barrel for being so stingy! You’ve just lost this customer!

  • paula

    People need to stop giving them money for a meal and give it to the homeless since cracker barrel don’t care about them.

  • Boojie

    That’s horrible! So what of he has other food offenses, think about when he was raised food was hard to come by, he probably knows what it’s like to be hungry and doesn’t want someone else to experience that. And if he took something for himself then take it out his pay. You are always suppost to help the needy. I’m ashamed of you Cracker Barrel

  • Mo Fiscal conservatism

    I like to see a business that has policies and enforces them. I mean, if this guy wanted to keep his job as a greeter at Cracker Barrel, he shouldn’t break the companies policies. If he wanted to give this give some tartar sauce and a muffin, he should have bought it and given it to him. You don’t make money by giving sh*t away…..

  • paula

    Mo u sound as heartless as cracker barrel. I hope somebody give that gentleman a job. He deserve another chance. That boss there need to look at undercover boss on TV.

  • Eileen

    Sometimes the rules are just plain wrong. Cracker Barrel has been selling a lot of religious-leaning articles recently in their stores, yet, they don’t allow their employees to have a cold drink or give a muffin to an obviously needy individual? We rarely eat there any more because everything is just mediocre. I used to buy some of the clothes but they are only selling blouses made for BIG women. I will be boycotting Cracker Barrel now because these rules are just plain wrong.

  • BO

    I’ve had 5$ to my name before and still gave someone 3 because I knew they needed it more than me.I don’t do it often but sometimes people need it.

  • Barbara O'Connor

    Employees cannot decide to give away a companies product. If this happened to me, I would pay for the items myself. Then I am doing the giving, not stealing from my employer.

  • Sue

    I work for cracker barrel. They throw so much food away it’s ridiculous. If a guest asks for condiments we are supposed to get it. What makes it worse. .. the bread service is COMPLIMENTARY!!!

    • Brittany

      I also worked at Cracker Barrel for a few years. It was absolutely the worst place I’ve ever worked for. Sue it right they throw away SO many corn muffins at the end of the day. Plus they throw away tons of other food. I mean huge trash cans full! I remember when I worked there we were only allowed to give out one jelly per two biscuits. The same with butter. Cracker Barrel has some CRAZY rules. That company is making plenty of money to spare a corn muffin that was probably going to be thrown away anyways. The company have no franchises so all the profit they make goes directly to them. I’m sorry but it was a freaking corn muffin not a million dollars. Let’s get real. Plus it would be very hard to steal stuff there as you have to carry a clear smal company approved bag or nothing at all.

  • Brenda

    I truly hope you’re never down and out, and can’t find someone to give you a handout. Really, drinking a fountain drink on duty? What kind if establishment won’t let employees get a drink on the house? I worked as a waitress many years, and though we paid full price for food at the Greek restaurants (the Italian restaurants always gave us what we could eat while working, and a 20% discount for meals when we came in off the clock, not just the employee, but the entire check, Americans would give , employees a 10% discount while on the clock, but everywhere drinks were always free). Maybe the guy was wrong, I’ll give ya that, but Cracker Barrel was too. If that’s the way they treat employees that don’t even make minimum wage, and can’t give a piece of bread and a packet of condiments to a homeless person, shame on them. I’m done with Cracker Barrel after this and the Duck Dynasty fiasco

  • Jessie

    I got fired from my local Cracker Barrel after two plus years of service bc they accused me of stealing a piece of cheese. Same week someone was fired over one slice of bacon. They are a mess.

  • Deana

    Seriously! I know how many muffins end up in the teas hat the end of the day. Gods greatest command was for us to love one another. I will boycotte Cracker Barrel because of this. And FYI spokesperson thereof, This is not your companies first offense either

  • Boycott agenda

    Boycott Cracker Barrel all over the us. Let us see how they feel about that. Boycott boycott.

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