WASHINGTON — Cracker Barrel is getting some negative feedback after it fired one its employees, a 73-year-old Vietnam veteran, who gave a corn muffin and condiment packets to a man who appeared to be homeless.
Joe Koblenzer, who had worked at the restaurant for three years, was fired from a location in Venice, Florida, after he gave out free food to a man who “looked a little needy,” he told Florida TV station, WWSB.
Earlier this month, a man approached Koblenzer — who is a greeter at Cracker Barrel — and asked for some mayonnaise and tarter sauce because “he was going to cook a fish,” Koblenzer told WWSB. Koblenzer came back with the items and a corn muffin, too.
After his offering, the store’s general manager fired Koblenzer.
“They legally can do this because I did break the rule. I completely forgot about it,” he told WWSB.
Cracker Barrel released a statement defending its actions:
“Mr. Koblenzer has worked as a host at Cracker Barrel’s Sarasota store since April 2011. 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 polices and the consequences associated with violating them. On the fifth occasion, again per Company policy, Mr. Koblenzer was terminated.
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.”
Koblenzer told WWSB this was not his first time violating the business’ rules. Two years ago, he gave someone a fountain drink on the job and another time he gave someone a cup of coffee, for which he claims she paid.
Watch a video of WWSB’s interview with Koblenzer.