U.S. Eatery Fires Vietnam Vet, 73, After He Gives Needy Man a Free Muffin

Cracker Barrel chain says it wasn't the first time; Good Samaritan tells Fox News he isn't bitter: 'They did their thing, and now people know about it.'

Screenshot from Fox News

A 73-year-old Vietnam War veteran was fired from a chain restaurant in Florida after giving a needy man a free muffin, Fox News reported Sunday.

Joe Koblenzer says a man recently came into the Cracker Barrel restaurant in Sarasota where he worked as a counterman and asked for some mayonnaise and tartar sauce to cook some fish. Koblenzer gave him the little packets of condiments and threw in a free muffin.

That was it for his late-in-life career at Cracker Barrel. He says it was the third time in his three years there that he'd been written up for penny-ante infractions, the previous two being when he had a soft drink from the fountain on one of his shifts, and when he supposedly gave a woman a free cup of coffee, which he denies.

By Cracker Barrel's figuring, though, it was Koblenzer's fifth bad. The company said in a 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 policies and the consequences associated with violating them. On the fifth occasion, again per Company policy, Mr. Koblenzer was terminated," read the statement.

The restaurant made sure to add: "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.”

No complaints

Koblenzer isn't complaining. He says he has no beef with his former employer.

“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, " he said, noting that he took the job to supplement his monthly Social Security benefits.

“I’m not casting doom and gloom on the company. They did their thing, and now people know about it,” Koblenzer said.

Asked if giving that poor guy a muffin was worth it, Koblenzer said, “Yes, it was worth it. I would do it again. A moral issue comes in." He added that if Cracker Barrel had asked him to pay for it, he would have.