Venice veteran says he lost job after giving muffin to needy person

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Posted: Wednesday, June 25, 2014 10:02 am


VENICE, Fla. -- A 73-year old veteran says he was fired from the Cracker Barrel restaurant in Venice for giving someone who looked in a need a few condiment packets and a corn muffin.

Was it against the restaurant's rules, or is it the right thing to do? It's a debate that is already catching fire online.

For the past three plus years, Joe Koblenzer has put on his brown and yellow Cracker Barrel apron and greeted those who come in to the Venice location. “It's a fun job; a job really suited to me."

He says that two weeks ago, 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 tarter sauce. He said he was going to cook a fish."

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."

That gesture apparently cost Joe 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."

He admits 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.

But rules are rules. “It's a rule. They legally can do this because I did break the rule. I completely forgot about it. I am a host at Cracker Barrel with a little above minimum wage job."

Now the Vietnam vet who was trying to supplement his Social Security is the one looking for work.

"Hurt me? Oh yeah it has."

The debate over the seriousness of the event and the subsequent firing has started a firestorm online. In recent days the story has gotten out on Facebook, on pages like the Venice Scoop and even the restaurant’s own page.

While some are saying it's the company’s right, the establishments 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," says Joe.

He says he's sad over the situation and misses the regulars and employees he's gotten to know; earning the maximum amount of stars on his apron for performance achievement and responsibility. “You know what? At 73, I was really proud of doing this. I was really proud of getting those stars."

He says yes it was against the rules and yes they have a right to let him go, but morally it still feels like it was the right thing to do. "I don't think I will be working for a corporation again, so I don't know if that will ever come up (laughs).”

Joe says he is looking for a new job but not quite sure yet what he will do.

Late Wednesday, a Cracker Barrel spokesperson released the following statement:

“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.”

Was Cracker Barrel right to fire an employee for giving a muffin to someone who "looked needy"?

Cracker Barrel says 73 year old Joe Koblenzer violated the Company’s policies regarding consuming food without paying or giving it away on five separate occasions. Koblenzer says he offered to pay and was just helping someone in need. What do you think?

Total Votes: 3130

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  • citizenx posted at 10:33 am on Mon, Aug 4, 2014.

    citizenx Posts: 1

    This is what happens when money comes first. Scratch CB off the list. To all you cooperate spin doctors you should really refrain from ever using the word Veteran
    no one buys that you or your cooperate masters give a dang about anyone anymore.

  • satinstitch posted at 10:06 am on Mon, Aug 4, 2014.

    satinstitch Posts: 1

    IMHO Cracker Barrel had 3choices: 1) embrace the spirit in which the muffin was given, good PR 2) Advise Joe that he must pay for any purchases he makes on the spot. In that way he can give away what ever he wants so no theft is involved 3) they can terminate him. It's unfortunate that the manager chose the most detrimental choice to all concerned.

  • Nancy R posted at 7:21 pm on Sat, Aug 2, 2014.

    Nancy R Posts: 2

    Paying Customer: Have you no compassion for your fellow human beings? You are calling them cockroaches, druggies, scumbag, and parasites. People like you make me ill. You do not know of their life circumstance. "He without sins thrown the first stone". You do not know anything about "those people". Shame on you for your attitude. Ever hear of Karma? I hope you learn first hand what it is all about. Shame on you!

  • Nancy R posted at 7:01 pm on Sat, Aug 2, 2014.

    Nancy R Posts: 2

    I understand the firing of this gentleman. However, a person has to do the right thing. Cracker Barrel is so cheap they can't allow their employees a free fountain drink? What does a cup of coffee actually cost? Does management get free drinks or a cup of coffee during board meetings without paying for them? All of this bad publicity has cost the company more than those two drinks. They should reconsider their policy. I don't believe in stealing and have never stole anything. The bigger picture is that we are suppose to take care of each other. If I saw a hungry person, I would buy him a dinner. I would hire this veteran also, as he has compassion for his fellow human beings - something Cracker Barrel is lacking. I never liked Cracker Barrel, and this gives me another reason to not ever go there

  • Molly posted at 7:24 am on Sat, Aug 2, 2014.

    Molly Posts: 1

    For whatever reason, it was obviously determined to be against company policy. Todays "Degree'd" management, tend to overlook the chapters dedicated to understanding people or more precise...employee's. Joe, grew up at a time when this behavior was commonplace and never raised an eyebrow. The restaurant business is unique in that the same product it uses for profit is one that is an essential to sustain life and like any other business, there is Social responsibility that needs to be addressed. The manager that fired him would have done better to use this as a learning tool for all employee's and creating a win-win situation. What a PUTZ! I would love to have this managers position if only for short term to display what a competent manager could have done with this situation. This is definitely a situation of "Penny wise and Dollar foolish". Removing from employees the instinct to "do good", benefits no corporation. The fault here lies with the store and corporate for not providing an equitable and positive approach. They (corporate) are well aware of all aspects that affect their business including the human side. It is issues like this that cause some corporations to excel and others to be mediocre or fade away. Thank God there are plenty of "Joe's" still around and though it is true that Joe should have let management take the initiative, it is situations like this that highlight fault's in management. What happened is/has been an industry hazard since the beginning. A hazard that with wise management could easily be turned into an attribute and for the sake of the shareholders, an increased bottom line.

  • Missrugby posted at 3:30 pm on Thu, Jul 31, 2014.

    Missrugby Posts: 1

    I understand that the man was trying to help someone down on his luck, but unfortunately he broke the rules. Cracker Barrel clearly gave him plenty of chances by writing him up 5 times before finally letting him go. Imagine if every employee did this daily....Cracker Barrel would go out of business! The employee should have paid for the items out of his pocket if he wanted to help the patrons in need. I certainly appreciate his service on this country, and he is obviously a very giving man, but I am looking at both sides.

  • HowPurdy posted at 1:13 pm on Tue, Jul 1, 2014.

    HowPurdy Posts: 5

    Okay so Retired Vet now works at the local bank and decides to give a $1 or $2 (the cost of a muffin) to someone who is down on their luck and most of y'all are saying that would be okay too?

  • HowPurdy posted at 1:09 pm on Tue, Jul 1, 2014.

    HowPurdy Posts: 5

    Then you too are the thief.

  • HowPurdy posted at 1:08 pm on Tue, Jul 1, 2014.

    HowPurdy Posts: 5

    That agreement was towards MawMaw..I am full of compassion but not towards people that steal....that was stealing.

  • HowPurdy posted at 1:05 pm on Tue, Jul 1, 2014.

    HowPurdy Posts: 5

    I agree with you !!!

  • HowPurdy posted at 1:04 pm on Tue, Jul 1, 2014.

    HowPurdy Posts: 5

    I am sorry But I agree with Cracker Barrel. Thou shalt not steal. Period! If Mr. Koblenzer had first paid for the muffin then given it away then I would be for him. He went against company policy - he stoled the muffin no matter how you look at it. He had no right to give what was not his away.

  • cardslammer posted at 11:16 am on Tue, Jul 1, 2014.

    cardslammer Posts: 2

    I also thought of another way Crack Barn could recoup their egregious losses. Each of those gold stars Joe earned for his apron probably represent, say, $100,000.00 in revenue for the company(estimate may be low). They could rip one star off of Joes apron for each muffin, cup of swill, etc and then force Joe to wear the torn apron while working. Maybe pin a sign to him that says "I AM A THEIF", but all the while being sure to be grateful for and honor Mr. Koblenzer’s service to our country as we honor all service men and women and their families.”

  • birdonawire posted at 6:59 pm on Mon, Jun 30, 2014.

    birdonawire Posts: 1

    Yes Cracker Barrel has Rules in place to terminate a minimum wage employee.And, it appears that Cracker Barrel does not support team work concept nor empowering their employees to think of new ideas to save money or time nor eliminate safety concerns.

  • Freddie Eddie posted at 2:15 pm on Mon, Jun 30, 2014.

    Freddie Eddie Posts: 2

    Thank you Mr. Scrooge. You are representative of the dry dust that comes from the withered teat that once was the milk of human compassion.

  • Freddie Eddie posted at 2:13 pm on Mon, Jun 30, 2014.

    Freddie Eddie Posts: 2

    For the cost of about a dollar of food over 3 years, Cracker Barrel is going to lose tens of thousands of dollars in revenue as well as priceless reputation.

    Koblenzer wasn't giving away entire plates of food...still he shouldn't have broken the rules if he agreed to work under Cracker Barrel's draconian rules.

    Every restaurant has food loss from food being sent back or kitchen mistakes...even a fountain drink costs pennies. Customers are also comped food all the time. The manager may have had an axe to grind.

    Cracker Barrel needs to fire the manager for costing the company far more than Koblenzer. And people should make the choice to never visit Cracker Barrel again.

    Keep in mind veterans are very important to the Cracker Barrel demographic. They WILL feel the pain.

  • jeroldTickner posted at 1:37 pm on Mon, Jun 30, 2014.

    jeroldTickner Posts: 1

    I think this just shows you were craker barrel is in there ethics are.
    I t's the same thing they did when they stop using Duck Dynasties
    products than changed there minds because of money. I believe this
    just shows you where their heatr is. This should have been handled
    without the media because it brings sham on the businees that is
    suppose to stand for Christian principles. That in turn brings sham on
    Christ. Go by Cracker Barrel I will stamp the dust from my feet and not enter
    your door agian.

  • Patti2448832 posted at 12:59 pm on Mon, Jun 30, 2014.

    Patti2448832 Posts: 1

    I, like everyone else, was outraged when I first read this. I still feel that Joe showed compassion to someone he deemed to be needy; his heart is great.

    However I do see the side of the other people who say he could have paid for the muffin himself if he wanted to give it to the man. Their point that it is easy to be generous with other people's items is valid.

    There are no CBs where I live. I have only gone to them while traveling with friends. The places I have been the CB are usually off a freeway exit and I see no homeless people hanging around. Every state is different though and perhaps CB does have trouble with homeless people coming into their restaurants.

    Either way CB is now off my list while traveling. I never thought the food was that great anyway.

  • bmhay1 posted at 11:08 am on Mon, Jun 30, 2014.

    bmhay1 Posts: 1

    However employees pay for their food, that is how it should have been handled. If they pay on the spot, then that is how he should have paid, if it is taken from their pay, then that is how it should have been handled. If they like this man so well and he has a habit of doing this (5 times in 3 years) then why not deduct it from his pay? His job was to be friendly to people, all people and that is what he did, but he is not to give away the store. And he can't be treated differently than other employees. However, I appreciate his kind heart. I won't eat at Cracker Barrel.

  • sueboo posted at 8:44 am on Mon, Jun 30, 2014.

    sueboo Posts: 1

    For the love of the world, "not everyone can be as smart as you"......k pumpkin?

  • Esmerelda Pumphandle posted at 7:03 am on Mon, Jun 30, 2014.

    Esmerelda Pumphandle Posts: 1

    While I believe the Cracker Barrel is within its rights to fire the man for this, I have to ask one question:

    What does it tell you about a business with a policy preventing its employees from showing human decency, compassion, and kindness to their fellow man?

    Mr. Koblenzer is better off without an association with such a business, and I certainly won't be eating there again. I may start hanging out in the parking lot giving out free muffins though. [smile]

  • VAfrmNJ posted at 5:39 am on Mon, Jun 30, 2014.

    VAfrmNJ Posts: 1

    I'm sorry, did you not read the article fully? He has been stating that he IS wrong and has no understanding as to why this situation has gone viral. This action, whoever has done this, could cause him NOT to be hired by a different employer. Though he seems to have gotten into his head that he can provide freely, I strongly believe that the company should have provided the opportunity to pay for the muffin with a warning. The company claims he had other infractions, but those infractions were not for providing free food which appears to be the "icing on the cake" for termination. By the way, how often has cracker barrel, at the end of the night, thrown food away? Isn't that the same as "giving it away"? I know dumpsters are a real treat for some hobos.

  • AceMatrix posted at 11:42 pm on Sun, Jun 29, 2014.

    AceMatrix Posts: 1

    My family and all of our relatives will no longer patronize Cracker Barrel , and we will also encourage our friends and associates to do likewise. For the tiny price of a little muffin to feed a hungry human being , they would fire a senior citizen and veteran for doing something that Jesus has taught us that we should do. We are disgusted with this Godless Corporate mentality. Once more the betrayal of Jesus for a mere handful of coins. So terribly sad what Cracker Barrel has become.

  • maw maw posted at 10:23 pm on Sun, Jun 29, 2014.

    maw maw Posts: 3

    Christians know Thou shall not steal!!

  • maw maw posted at 10:19 pm on Sun, Jun 29, 2014.

    maw maw Posts: 3

    He could help but giving away something that doesn't belong to him is not him helping!!!

  • maw maw posted at 10:13 pm on Sun, Jun 29, 2014.

    maw maw Posts: 3

    I cannot believe so many people think it is alright to steal.That muffin did not belong to Joe.If he wanted to do a good deed he should have bought the muffin and gave it to the man.Being a veteran or being 73 yrs old does not give him a right to steal.With his employee discount he could have purchased the muffin for half price.Seems like he was trying to make himself look good.He said he forgot about previous warnings,I don't think so.I've heard that too many times working in retail.If you lived in a mansion and had everything,you wouldn't want anyone taking anything from you.And yes I do know what it's like to need,but I believe in getting it honest.I grew up very poor but I have bought food for the needy many times.I do hope Joe finds another job and hope he has learned from his mistakes.

  • cardslammer posted at 5:05 pm on Sun, Jun 29, 2014.

    cardslammer Posts: 2

    Crackerbarrel, I wish I could say that I will never visit your restaurant again because of this, but sadly I cannot because I already stopped going because your food is such shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit. The food is served cold, the coffee is bad, bad bad! Your facade of old-timey America is a thin but transparent cover for a greedy self serving organization and slave factory for some of the country's finest, albiet most vulnerable. I hope that when your corporate bosses eventually find themselves living in a 73 year old body, someone will not begrudge them a sip of liquid refreshment to keep going. I never ever broadcast my feelings before about your fukked up less than third rate helllhole, and I don't know why, but I suddenly developed a new "RULE" about that! Well you know, rules are rules!!! I'll swear by another rule with my very life- "God is not mocked and a man shall reap what he sows". I've seen it work without fail, like clockwork for multitudes of years. Rules is rules. Your former employee will do quite well. You are toast.

  • rgamore posted at 4:03 pm on Sun, Jun 29, 2014.

    rgamore Posts: 1

    Cracker Barrel is about rules and regulations and nothing about humanity. I would have done the same thing, Semper fi, our age group was taught to be respectful and help when we can. This wasn't a loss for cracker barrel, they waste more food.
    Cracker Barrel Management has too much time on their hands, besides being over paid....

    I'll take business to Whataburger, those folks know how to treat their employees and customers.t

  • pj39 posted at 3:17 pm on Sun, Jun 29, 2014.

    pj39 Posts: 1

    I hope that 10 cent muffin was worth it because they won't be getting anymore of my money.

  • hshrum posted at 12:43 pm on Sun, Jun 29, 2014.

    hshrum Posts: 1

    I think that it is entirely up to Cracker Barrel to implement its policies as they see fit. If the gentleman was reprimanded in the past for these acts and continued to do so then he clearly was insubordinate. If he cared about his job and knew the policy, he could have bought the item and then done with it as he pleased. I also would like to know why the fact that he is a veteran is important to the article. While I am appreciative f all who sacrificed for our country, I do not think that it gives this gentleman any additional rights or consideration that any other employee would receive. I question that if he were not an elderly gentleman and veteran if this would even be considered "newsworthy". I think that something could have and possibly should have been worked out and who is to say that it wasn't. I think that it may be easier to accept the firing and run to the media to get the fame, than to accept that what you did was in err of judgment even though the heart as in the right place. If anything let's see if this gentleman goes on television and makes money and what he does with his gain from this situation. If he donates some of it to charity, then good for him and those he helps.

  • scubacat posted at 10:19 pm on Sat, Jun 28, 2014.

    scubacat Posts: 2

    Let's get real here people. We're talking about a muffin. How many of you have taken a pen or paper clips or some mundane object home from work or extra tissues from a fast food joint or extra condiments and never used them and put them in you home? Big restaurants throw away thousands of dollars of food away every night, every night people! It's not the stepping stone for the overthrow of the world by the hungry. And so what if it is? We are the richest and most wasteful country in the world. And people in our country are starving. Shame on you, we all need to go back to kindergarten and learn to share. Oh and Cracker Barrel, (one of our favorites) for your lack of compassion over a few muffins, you've lost my business for being so mean and firing a very nice ole man.

  • watchdog posted at 1:57 pm on Sat, Jun 28, 2014.

    watchdog Posts: 9

    I agree 100% with Flowergirl. He should have bought the muffins for whomever he gave them to. This is employee theft plain and simple. I thank him for his service, but that does not give him the right to steal from his employer. He was wrong and should admit it and take his licks like he was trained to do by the army.

  • Bubbala posted at 9:33 am on Sat, Jun 28, 2014.

    Bubbala Posts: 1

    Cracker Barrel has built its business by creating a warm and fuzzy climate for Middle America. A place where our country's agricultural history, patriotism and American values are celebrated.

    This incident speaks to a small mindedness and meanness of spirit that seems to have infected our society. Is there really a fear that if you give away a muffin, you'll have droves of homeless rocking on the front porch without buying anything and looking for free muffins and condiments?

    The other day, I spilled some coffee in my car and stopped at McDonald's and took some napkins to clean up the mess. Should I be arrested for stealing napkins?

    For those of you who like to bash the "hobo cockroaches" , maybe you should just be happy that you are not a victim of the recession looking for a little help instead of being a paying customer.

    I wonder what Cracker Barrel does with their leftover food? Do they make an effort to share with the community? Is there a pile of moldy muffins out back?

    I see a thread through here that blames liberalism for the idea that it's okay to give away something that doesn't belong to them. Unless I miss my guess, these are the same folks that used to talk about family values. I grew up in a home of solid Conservatives and we were taught that it was better for people to help one another rather than turning to the government for help. It was never a conservative value to turn your back on those in need.

    For those who choose to use this as an excuse to bash Obama, are you kidding me?

  • tekwrite posted at 9:17 am on Sat, Jun 28, 2014.

    tekwrite Posts: 5

    Yeah he had a kiosk set up out back and emptied the kitchen! Get a Life!

  • tekwrite posted at 9:17 am on Sat, Jun 28, 2014.

    tekwrite Posts: 5

    Its bad PR period.

  • tekwrite posted at 9:16 am on Sat, Jun 28, 2014.

    tekwrite Posts: 5

    The sky is falling, the sky is falling!

  • tekwrite posted at 9:15 am on Sat, Jun 28, 2014.

    tekwrite Posts: 5

    I am a conservative Christian and think that compassion is important. How much food does CB throw anyhow?

  • tekwrite posted at 9:14 am on Sat, Jun 28, 2014.

    tekwrite Posts: 5

    I can see both sides BUT in the court of Public Opinion and PR, Cracker Barrel shot itself in the foot with this one!

  • manandcat posted at 12:15 am on Sat, Jun 28, 2014.

    manandcat Posts: 1

    Ok first of all it mentioned about soft drinks? what company doesnt let employees have free soft drinks? that right there is a problem (and stupid) if thats the case. A muffin? really? it cost them maybe .30 for that muffin that might end up in the trash anyway. It doesnt matter if he was a veteran, he could just be normal civilian, would we be seeing this story? I dont live anywhere near this location but i have to say if im ever near it I wont eat there. The GM needs to be fired, Joe offered to pay for the muffin, they should of excepted that fact and worked it out!

  • dolphinve posted at 7:01 pm on Fri, Jun 27, 2014.

    dolphinve Posts: 1

    paying customer is one who was one ot the inmates of the movie " one flew over the coo coo"s nest"

  • ckcmh posted at 4:49 pm on Fri, Jun 27, 2014.

    ckcmh Posts: 2

    Its on every news network.The bad p/r will cost them millions.

  • ckcmh posted at 4:24 pm on Fri, Jun 27, 2014.

    ckcmh Posts: 2

    I worked many years in restaurant industry...they throw out hundreds of dollars in food every week.This bad p/r will cost them far more.

  • flowergirl posted at 9:36 am on Fri, Jun 27, 2014.

    flowergirl Posts: 2

    One of the problems of today's society is the idea that it is valiant of someone to give away something that doesn't belong to them. It wasn't his muffin to give away, if he wanted the man to have a muffin then he should have paid for it. This isn't the the problem of a company being the bad one, it is an employee who broke the rules (and the law probably). If everyone who worked there decided to eat the food, or give away food how long would the company be in business? And, just what gives an employee the right to decide whether to give something away?

    Getting a little political here, the problem with today's liberal thinking is that it is all right to give away money, food, etc as long as it isn't theirs. The man should have paid for the muffin, then he could give it away if he wanted.]

  • flowergirl posted at 9:24 am on Fri, Jun 27, 2014.

    flowergirl Posts: 2

    So, if each person who wanted a free handout was given one, how long would the place stay open? How many employees would then be without jobs? Sorry, but while giving away ONE muffin isn't a problem, it sets a precedent that cannot be continued. In legal terms, this man stole something from his employer. I know it was to be kind, but tell that to the person who owns the business.

  • MrEdward2 posted at 8:37 am on Fri, Jun 27, 2014.

    MrEdward2 Posts: 2

    Paying Customer, Have you lost your mind, totally? How do you know he voted for Obama, and what does that have to do with this story? Would you rather this "homeless man" mug someone in the parking lot?

  • Nelly Crimps posted at 7:00 pm on Thu, Jun 26, 2014.

    Nelly Crimps Posts: 1

    @ElviraBradshaw This bunch of crackers won't see me there, either. Where is their kindness? Where is their humanity? A fukkin corn muffin? They should have given Mr. K. bloejob for his kindness.

  • Elvira Bradshaw posted at 6:55 pm on Thu, Jun 26, 2014.

    Elvira Bradshaw Posts: 1

    In this case, I think the MANAGER (or whoever fired this Mr. Koblenzer) should have his gonads removed. This Mr. Koblenzer should be rewarded for his humanity. I will NEVER (and I mean NEVER) go to this Godforsaken piece of *** place. A few years ago they were being inhumane to gay people, too, weren't they?

  • peedeeh posted at 5:12 pm on Thu, Jun 26, 2014.

    peedeeh Posts: 4

    On a note completely unrelated to this story, AK16, you are a RIOT!! Your post here had me LAUGHING OUT LOUD!! [beam] "k pumpkin?" O M G -- that is funny!!

  • B-Friendly posted at 4:58 pm on Thu, Jun 26, 2014.

    B-Friendly Posts: 2

    He was giving out free food. There is no difference between this and breaking into a register. He may have a good heart, but it's not HIS decision on when and how Cracker Barrel should be donating their products and money.

    The story says he was counseled 5 times, written up, etc. At what point does the business say "enough is enough"?

    I'm sure Joe is a nice guy, but what he was doing is theft, it's that simple.

  • B-Friendly posted at 4:56 pm on Thu, Jun 26, 2014.

    B-Friendly Posts: 2

    Joe was counseled 5 times for theft. It's not up to Joe to determine when and how Cracker Barrel makes charitable donations. Joe was more than welcome to buy items himself and donate them to those in need. Without permission, he is nothing more than a common thief with a good heart.

    And if they do not discipline employees for theft, what happens next? When someone takes some food home without paying... well hey, Joe hands out food! Companies have to be consistent in how they discipline. Joe stole, over, and over. He was fired.

  • MattO posted at 3:25 pm on Thu, Jun 26, 2014.

    MattO Posts: 1

    CB had gross income of $767MM in 2013 up from $743MM in 2012. The Total cost of the condiments and muffin is approx. $0.34 - extrapolated, that is like having $23 million dollars in your pocket and losing 1 penny. They released a PERSON who 2 years ago drank a soda pop without paying for it and now gave away 34 cents. Why, under any measurement is this not outrageous?

  • TessSnow posted at 2:39 pm on Thu, Jun 26, 2014.

    TessSnow Posts: 1

    Really? I know, a whole muffin!, first a muffin and then a whole bowl of soup,,,,where does it end? Next he'll be wanting to make sure EVERYONE is okay. (please note the sarcasm if it isn't already obvious) Rules? There is a rule I know about, maybe you've heard of it... SHARE. Give the man his job back for Pete's sake, and while you're at it give him a living wage.

  • Sam Thomas posted at 2:33 pm on Thu, Jun 26, 2014.

    Sam Thomas Posts: 1

    Trust me, I'm not a liberal. I'm very conservative. However, you are making us look bad by ranting about this guy "stealing." Have a little compassion. And, before you start ranting again about this guy stealing, answer one question. Have you ever left work with an office pen on you, a company owned tool, a company owned anything? That, too, is stealing. Just a thought...

  • AK16 posted at 2:31 pm on Thu, Jun 26, 2014.

    AK16 Posts: 2

    For the love of everyone on the planet, if you have a lag between your thoughts, try "..." rather than a full line of commas (you may not know what a comma is. Its that thing you're using instead or a period, or ",,,,,,,,"). If you want anyone to take your thoughts seriously, right them as such...k pumpkin?

  • jdh1947b posted at 2:13 pm on Thu, Jun 26, 2014.

    jdh1947b Posts: 1

    I sometimes wonder about Cracker Barrel and their policies. I am a bit younger than the fired man, but not much, I am 67. Many years ago, around 30 years or so, Cracker Barrel was sued at their Lebanon, Tennessee location (that s where they started) for firing a gay man that worked in the kitchen. He was terminated just for being gay, no other activity. They also would not serve groups of gay men and women, and they were also sued by the NAACP, for their attitude toward people of color. Did you ever notice when you go into a Cracker Barrel, they have that sign that says they welcome everybody (It is posted at the entrance between the two doors, read it) They HAD to post that sign, part of the settlement agreement. I don't go to Cracker Barrel, It seem as tho business places can do whatever they choose in today times.

  • gma4 posted at 2:01 pm on Thu, Jun 26, 2014.

    gma4 Posts: 1

    well i have eaten at cracker barrel lots of times, and they used to bring you a basket of muffins and biscuits. before you got your meal. and we never ate the muffins, they just went back in the trash they went. i am sure they have thrown away lots of muffins and biscuits. and at the end of the day i am sure lots end up in the trash. so what does hurt if he gave just one away. they are not losing any money. you get them free when you go and eat. maybe he should have a customer going out the door give him one.

  • Cyndy Celmer Tomassetti posted at 1:56 pm on Thu, Jun 26, 2014.

    Cyndy Celmer Tomassetti Posts: 1

    I've had the privilege of knowing Joe for more than 20 years. Cracker Barrel is the big loser here- they lost a valuable emissary of the warm, welcoming environment they try to foster. Joe emanates sunshine and love. By firing him, they are sending a very negative message to the public. Shame on them.

  • peedeeh posted at 1:41 pm on Thu, Jun 26, 2014.

    peedeeh Posts: 4

    Believe me, I can appreciate everything everyone is saying regarding rules being rules, and giving handouts to homeless not solving the issue; HOWEVER, the punishment should fit the crime. My uncle did not DESERVE to be FIRED. He was a good employee who did his job well. He wasn't breaking into the register or giving away meals. His actions were not malicious. Make him pay for the items and, OK, suspend him for a week if you must. But HE SHOULD HAVE NEVER BEEN FIRED.

  • ssalty posted at 1:38 pm on Thu, Jun 26, 2014.

    ssalty Posts: 2

    You're just overflowing with the milk of human kindness, aren't you? Drown any kittens lately?

  • ssalty posted at 1:36 pm on Thu, Jun 26, 2014.

    ssalty Posts: 2

    Cracker Barrel is a terrible restaurant (in my opinion, though my ex-wife loves the place). Their "comfort food" is worse than a TV dinner. I get it that it's a rule. How is the rule written though? 'No giving anything away'? He should have paid for the muffin himself and then given it away. Or is it a 'three strikes' rule?

    He'll find a job, hopefully working for a better company. Or he could Break Bad and go into the drug business. I doubt he'd be noticed in Florida.

  • meandepiphany posted at 1:24 pm on Thu, Jun 26, 2014.

    meandepiphany Posts: 1

    Christian organization? Cracker Barrel is a restaurant. If you want an example of Christianity, look to Jesus Christ, basing an opinion regarding his teachings cannot be found in man or buildings.

  • paying customer posted at 1:16 pm on Thu, Jun 26, 2014.

    paying customer Posts: 10

    Yeah,,,,,,,,,,,keep stealing from others. We love giving away other people's property without their permission, we vote democrat in every election.

  • paying customer posted at 1:13 pm on Thu, Jun 26, 2014.

    paying customer Posts: 10

    Speaking of veterans, didn't the VA have a guy arrested, handcuffed and jailed for re-filling a soda at their lunch counter?
    Then they killed a 1000 vets thru delays and medical neglect.
    Obama could care less, I heard he is sending them to Cracker Barrel.

  • paying customer posted at 1:10 pm on Thu, Jun 26, 2014.

    paying customer Posts: 10

    Humane is when you give of yourself,,,,,,,,,,,,,,theft is when you take from others and give to bums.

  • paying customer posted at 1:08 pm on Thu, Jun 26, 2014.

    paying customer Posts: 10

    Your Uncle steals,,,,,,,,,,,,,,if he gave your property to a stranger you would have screamed at him.

  • paying customer posted at 1:07 pm on Thu, Jun 26, 2014.

    paying customer Posts: 10

    If Joe worked at a carwash and stole the change from your ashtray would you sing his praises?

    If he offered your cellphone to a stranger without permission would you adore him?

    If Joe walked into your garage and took things to give to the needy would you yell, hurray!!!?


    Stealing is stealing, it is always easy for a democrat to offer the property of others,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,impossible to get them to give from their own pockets.

  • paying customer posted at 1:04 pm on Thu, Jun 26, 2014.

    paying customer Posts: 10

    He was 70 when they hired him,,,,,,,,,,,,,Cracker Barrel will do fine without you.

  • paying customer posted at 1:04 pm on Thu, Jun 26, 2014.

    paying customer Posts: 10

    Human kindness,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,is when YOU USE YOUR OWN MONEY, TIME OR EFFORTS to help people.
    Theft is when you use mine.

  • paying customer posted at 1:02 pm on Thu, Jun 26, 2014.

    paying customer Posts: 10

    When joe walks into your house, opens your fridge and gives the food to a druggie he found on the sidealk,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,will you sing his praise?

  • paying customer posted at 1:01 pm on Thu, Jun 26, 2014.

    paying customer Posts: 10

    Cite anything as actual proof Cracker Barrel won't feed a gay guy lunch.

  • paying customer posted at 1:00 pm on Thu, Jun 26, 2014.

    paying customer Posts: 10

    Florida is infested with the hobo cockroaches of the world, feeding them will only make them come back, NOT AS PAYING CUSTOMERS, BUT AS PARASITES that pester paying customers until they leave forever.
    Joe is more than willing to give away other peoples property, why didn't the moocher toss a quarter in the til and buy a muffin for the scumbag????? The answer is simple, he is an Obama voter who thinks he should be giving away the property of others since he is better suited to dispurse your earnings than the owners or shareholders of the company.

    For those of you who support Joe, feed a hobo or druggie yourself sometime. Invite them to your home for a shower and sleepover. Why use other people's wallets,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,when you have your own.

  • analogue posted at 12:51 pm on Thu, Jun 26, 2014.

    analogue Posts: 1

    [rolleyes] There could be a lot more to this story. This "needy person" could have very well have been a problem customer/frequent issue for that location. He may have been kicked out some times before for causing problems with paying customers, as in harassing, stinking up the place or being a general nuisance. Want to help the hungry? Then give to a local food bank. Don't encourage drunks, drug addicts or ex cons to become like stray cats in your nice establishment. I live in an area that has frequent issues with homeless- not ONE of them is a "nice person". Once you nicely give them something, they come back at all hrs making demands. Not a one of them is humble or not on drugs/drink. They often commit crimes in the area. Stop the phony indignation and false claims of "hatred for the poor". Time to start looking at things realistically and quit the smug self-pride.

  • JUSTMENMYDOG posted at 10:40 am on Thu, Jun 26, 2014.


    Way to go Joe! You are one of the few kind-hearted people left in this world, now if only your selfish, cheap superiors had the same kind of morals! I will not be visiting CB again, not only have I had bad experiences with customer service, er, lack there of, but they certainly just proved their greedy, insensitive tendencies, and I won't be a supporter of that. Sure, rules are rules, but I mean really, you didn't hand out free meals, or empty the cash drawer, you had a coke, and gave the needy man a muffin! Hopefully you find a better paying job that appreciates you and gives you the chance to make people's day better.

  • BillyPilgrim posted at 10:17 am on Thu, Jun 26, 2014.

    BillyPilgrim Posts: 1

    Everyone is talking about "doing the right thing" and being "compassionate".

    Would the man had been fired if he showed HIS compassion and HE did the right thing by paying for the muffin HIMSELF instead of secretly forcing the company to do so?

    The point is, he stole after prior warnings. It isn't the amount that he stole. It is the stealing itself. He could have asked if it was okay - no doubt there were older muffins that migfh have been thrown out otherwise.

    Another problem is by stealing the muffin instead of paying for it, he opened the company to liability. The homeless person could have sued if he got sick - or claimed to have gotten sick, "found" a foreign substance in the muffin, etc.

    Not saying that the company did the right or wrong thing. Just pointing out that in part their hands are tied and that it could have been avoided by the employee showing the merest amount of the compassion he felt was deserved.

  • Tracy posted at 5:15 am on Thu, Jun 26, 2014.

    Tracy Posts: 1

    Having worked in fast food - a soda costs a company about $.09 per cup (that is where the most money is made). A muffin would be less than $.25 lost revenue to the company, and coffee is even less. It is really sad that a company cannot use this incident to RAISE the standards for all companies by showing compassion to those in need in the area. Doing a fund raising event, homeless helping hand, something - rather than firing the employee who could have just been asked to pay the employee cost on those items (better yet, company cost). They could have used to bring support for the area but rather they have used it to sour many of our opinons of the company. Even the hot dog vendors on the street give away unused or product at the end of the day - guess these multimillion dollar companies need to learn some lessons - by loosing WAY more than what they could have gained, if they had capitilized on this situation the right way.

    Whoever does public relations for this particular area should be fired. The company has lost way more, and it could have gained significantly.

    Joe - you deserve to work for someone that does care about their community. I hope you find something somewhere else, at a local business that takes community pride and everything seriously.

  • Wendy7 posted at 2:23 am on Thu, Jun 26, 2014.

    Wendy7 Posts: 1

    I'm not sure how to feel about Cracker Barrel. I've heard they outright ban homosexual anything, then this. Helping people. Are Christian organizations all like this?

  • JQJ213 posted at 1:54 am on Thu, Jun 26, 2014.

    JQJ213 Posts: 1

    I understand corporate policy and all that, but seriously!? A muffin! I could pay for that with the change in my car's cupholder!
    He seems like a real criminal, a whole soda? A coffee? Now a muffin!? Maybe when he starts stealing $50 out of the register or tips from your servers you should be concerned!
    Besides, I've worked in restaurants before.. know what happens at the end of the night? IT GOES IN THE GARBAGE! Why not help someone out instead of making a big fuss over something worth less than $2.50?

  • bohica posted at 12:30 am on Thu, Jun 26, 2014.

    bohica Posts: 1

    First off, Thank you Mr. Koblenzer for your service, my father was also a VNV.
    Rules are rules, and not to be broken. We cannot blame cracker barrel for the termination.
    Blame the person that snitched him out. who ever it was most likely lives a very lonely life, and this is their way of getting attention.

  • Sheriff Alpo posted at 12:00 am on Thu, Jun 26, 2014.

    Sheriff Alpo Posts: 1

    If he was a Border Patrol Agent he Probable would have given out 250,000
    FREE Corn Muffins !

    He should have his Social Security TERMINATED !!! RULES IS RULES !

  • stonedogz posted at 11:24 pm on Wed, Jun 25, 2014.

    stonedogz Posts: 2

    Wow what bunch of no good Corporate Losers. I will never eat in a cracker barrel ever again and I will tell all of my friends and relatives what a bunch of Nazi creeps these people are.
    He clearly is a man of compassion who worked for some really cold hearted non community conscious people.

    They are planning on building a Cracker Nazi Barrel in our town, I am thinking that the next time the city council meets this will go before them. Our town needs to be aware of a company that does not care for the people that #1 work for them and #2 those less fortunate in the community where they do business.

    They represent the worst of what a true community partner should and I hope that they are proud of the negative public relations that they have engendered because of this. I hope that they do not build one in Muskogee Ok!

  • FrankenPC posted at 11:16 pm on Wed, Jun 25, 2014.

    FrankenPC Posts: 1

    So, a corporate tool at Cracker Barrel just couldn't let the socialist behavior of helping out people in need ride. Of course he had to retaliate. After all, if employees get the crazy idea that human kindness is acceptable behavior, the whole world could just fly apart.

  • shery posted at 9:35 pm on Wed, Jun 25, 2014.

    shery Posts: 1

    CB really screwed up posting that insult. If he were applying for a job and they said that to the possible employer he could sue CB. I hope he does.

  • Baloney posted at 8:26 pm on Wed, Jun 25, 2014.

    Baloney Posts: 1

    More then likely that Cracker Barrel restaurant in Venice fired him because he's 73 and was just looking for an excuse, any excuse, and feeding the hungry and homeless is against Cracker Barrel policy.........because they cant pay $$$.....

    I will never eat at another Cracker Barrel ever again.............and neither will anyone I know.............

  • roguejeff posted at 8:20 pm on Wed, Jun 25, 2014.

    roguejeff Posts: 2

    [sad] And to think...I was sad when I discovered Cracker Barrel didn't have restaurants in Oregon, where I live now.

    I wouldn't want one here, and I'll never visit one again should I travel and have the opportunity.

    Mr. Koblenzer was doing a decent, humane thing. Apparently being decent & humane isn't in the character of Cracker Barrel.

    I hope the company stock plummets and sales fall through the floor. Shame!

  • ElliotJKlein posted at 8:01 pm on Wed, Jun 25, 2014.

    ElliotJKlein Posts: 1

    Yes, it is terrible that a veteran lost his job, but employees of any business cannot decide when and where they want to consume or give away the company's products. All he had to do was ask the manager if he could give away the muffin and there would have been no problem. Just because it is a huge chain doesn't mean the company should keep an employee that believes that the store is his to do with what he wants. Letting this go unpunished (although he could have been suspended for a week instead) would tell every other employee "Sure, eat or give away anything you want whenever you want". That would put them out of business in no time.

  • crazygirl1 posted at 6:45 pm on Wed, Jun 25, 2014.

    crazygirl1 Posts: 5

    Joe, rules are rules and you knew that. But, I wonder how much of product is thrown out every night to the dumpster?
    I hope someday, Mr. Manager, you'll have to work a minimum wage job to help in your retirement.

  • JRedding posted at 5:48 pm on Wed, Jun 25, 2014.

    JRedding Posts: 20

    Wow, I just saw the news story on tv. Cracker Barrel sure doesn't sound like they really honor your service Joe. I think you are right about not working for Corporate Restaurants. Good luck:)

    I will never eat at another Cracker Barrel.

  • peedeeh posted at 5:28 pm on Wed, Jun 25, 2014.

    peedeeh Posts: 4

    Nice try, Cracker Barrel. Your comment means NOTHING to those of us who find your actions deplorable and unnecessary. A fountain drink? A cup of coffee? A muffin? If your company is going to fold for not getting your few pennies for these items, then ask Joe to pay for them. Done. I understand company policy, but do all of the stars he has earned on his apron mean nothing!?!? He OBVIOUSLY was a good employee--his only fault being a little too kindhearted. You geniuses at Cracker Barrel can't weigh one against the other?? I'm disgusted.

  • gandolf8910 posted at 5:14 pm on Wed, Jun 25, 2014.

    gandolf8910 Posts: 1

    Let us do something for the man and in doing so, for us all. I agree he broke the letter of the rules but, he did the right thing, to help another.

    My father helped write rules, regulations, legislation as a professional Personnel Systems Management Specialist as a government employee and as a consultant for a private company who contracted out their services. He impressed upon me the difficulty of "defining rules" without hurting another party who may be "short changed" by the guideline. Managers have discretion, employers, especially in Florida, have large latitude when it come to employee hiring and firing. I also, on the other hand, understand what can happen when a precedence is set.
    We can feel this is not a best course of action, to terminate JOE.
    Cracker Barrel can set a wonderful president here, the skill set for doing so is evident in the company's success. It may not be easy.
    I suggest a probational or review period for our JOE, while the time needed to handle this particular situation is put to good use. Care on all levels needs to be exercised here, for all, especially while in the light of the Media.
    It is an opportunity, for all of us.

  • peedeeh posted at 5:05 pm on Wed, Jun 25, 2014.

    peedeeh Posts: 4

    This is my uncle, and he absolutely DID NOT deserve to be fired for showing a little (and I mean LITTLE) compassion! Rules or no rules, giving a person in need a stinking muffin or cup of coffee does not make an employee a thief! If Cracker Barrel is so concerned with the loss of fifty cents or so over these acts of kindness, then all you needed to do was ask Joe to pay for it!!! Better yet, give me an address and I'LL GLADLY SEND YOU A COUPLE QUARTERS!! Good for you, Uncle Joe!! Love You!


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