73-year-old server fired after giving muffin to needy man

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

He admits it was against the restaurant’s rules, but says he thinks it was the right thing to do.

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,” Koblenzer said.

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 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.

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,” 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 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,” Koblenzer said.

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,” Koblenzer said.

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

A Cracker Barrel spokesperson provided the following statement to WWSB:

“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


  • Marta

    I already stated on facebook, what if the waiter’s and waitresses and greeters put 5.00 to 10.00 a month aside to have a fund to help the needy, who are out on luck and just need a meal. I agree, how much food REALLY does CB throw
    AWAY DAILY, COME ON CB, wake up and have a heart!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Vonnie Hull

      Marta: Before you slam Cracker Barrel it would probably make sense to find out what their donation policy is, I am sure they have one. Stealing is stealing.

  • Vonnie Hull

    Stealing is stealing. If I take something from you to give to someone who needs it… it is stealing and I am not entitled to do that. I cannot believe that people don’t get this simple logic. Shame on you FOX.

  • Elizabeth

    I do believe that this type of publication will be hurtful to all cracker barrels. As an American, I believe that our veterans should be taken care of as long as they live. So I believe when we have a chance to better the community by helping others, then we should do just that .

  • Andrea

    My god, what’s happened to human kindness? One lousy muffin is worth firing this man? I wonder how much food is thrown away at the end of each day, left over, because it did’nt sell or was expired. If we are to succeed as a Christian nation, some rules need to be bent or broken . “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. I’d be more than happy to pay for Crackel Barrel for the corn muffin. It fed a hungry human being. The man who gave it away should be honored, not punished!

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  • Raymoondo Juan Kwatoko Lee

    My name is Moondo and I’m an aspiring entrepreneur launching a clothing line called “MOONDOWEAR” to Inspire & Motivate those to their Greatness Within!!!. As I sit her crying, tears rolling down my face and reading about this ridiculous story about Cracker Barrel. I’m lost for words “But Here I Go”!!!. You’ve made $MILLIONS & $MILLIONS of dollars from the American Dream of being a Entrepreneurial Business and taking every opportunity afforded to you and “SUCCEEDED”!!!. I’m Angry!! and yet baffled about a few condiments packages, a few muffins and a few cups of coffee from time to time is more valuable, than helping others in need or down on their luck as they say!!!. Shame!! Shame!! Shame!! Cracker Barrel. I’m Ashamed of “YOU” as an American Iconic Restaurant brand who I always loved and revered!!!. I’m Ashamed as an aspiring entrepreneur with the American Dream in my Eye’s & Heart, this is the example you set for me as a business owner. I pray as a business owner I’ll never become what you became, which is HEARTLESS!! & SELFISH!!!. You built your company on the backs of hard working Americans and tourist alike, eating at your restaurants around the world but have a “TERMINATION POLICY” Like That!!. I’m “SHOCKED” & AMAZED we live in a country where if you do a few kind deeds from time to time, you can be fired and it’s legal. Joe, my friend, I wished I was in a position to hire you at my company, “MOONDOWORLD” Featuring “MOONDOWEAR” Clothing Line. You are the type of person we would LOVE TO HAVE!! & NEED WORKING FOR US”!!!! Your Heart is as big as Texas and your Kindness and Love for your fellow man and woman is Impeccable!!. You have shown us all the true meaning of Helping Others!! Despite Yourself!!. You paid the ultimate price from a company who cares only about the “BOTTOM DOLLAR”!!. I’m Honored to know you Joe and saddened we had to read this story about a man deserving of a much Greater story-line!!!. You are a True American Hero in my books. God Bless You Joe and you will find another job, worthy of the Character, Honesty, Dedication and Love in your Heart for all people. We all need to Love a little more!! and give back when you’ve been as SUCCESSFUL & BLESSED as Cracker Barrel. You are the True Meaning Of “PEOPLE HELPING PEOPLE”!!!.


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