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Cracker Barrel server fired for giving food to homeless man
A senior citizen and a veteran.... says he was fired from a Cracker Barrel Restaurant for giving a needy man a few condiment packets and a corn muffin.
He knew what exactly he was doing.
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."
Two weeks ago the 73-year-old says a man who looked like he might be homeless came through the doors.
"He looked a little needy. He asked 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. Rules are rules.
"It's a rule. They legally can do this because I did break the rule.
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."
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 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."
Joe 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. Ha."
"Joe says he is looking for a new job but not quite sure yet what he will do."
In a statement, Cracker Barrel said Koblenzer violated the company's policies on consuming or giving away food on five separate occasions....
And he had received multiple counseling and written warnings about those policies and the consequences of violating them.