Cracker Barrel Fires Employee for Stealing a Muffin: Wrong or Right?

PolitiChicks.comAs a business owner with a couple of employees, watching the budget is crucial to staying in the black. Ensuring that your employees are not re-appropriating your merchandise is a necessity of any employer – either a small business owner or a billion dollar corporation.

In an entitlement society, if an employee decides to help himself to copy paper, pens, food, the feeling is that it’s justifiable because the boss has a large profit and won’t miss the little bits and pieces taken. There’s also a mentality that “Scrooge should pay me more anyway”.

The reality is that helping yourself to anything that isn’t yours–whether office supplies or giving away other people’s property– is actually that nasty word we don’t like to hear: stealing.

Recently Cracker Barrel restaurant fired an employee for giving a corn muffin to someone who came in asking for condiments to go with the fish he was going to cook. The former employee, Joe Koblenzer, reportedly gave the man the muffin because he “looked homeless.”

First, how can anyone tell if someone is homeless by how they look?  But more importantly, that muffin wasn’t Koblenzer’s to give away. He should have bought it with his money first, and then he could have done anything he wanted with the corn muffin.

Every restaurant I’ve ever worked has had the same policy of allowing employees to buy food at 50% off when they are on their break. If this rule weren’t in place, employees would bring in their friends and family for a feast at the expense of someone else. And of course if every business gave food or supplies away to someone who looked needy, very few would survive, thus compounding the problem of more unemployment.

I’ve read many negative comments about Cracker Barrel, with people saying they were wrong to fire Koblenzer or that perhaps it was too harsh a punishment.

What people aren’t considering is the fact that Koblenzer had been warned five times to stop giving food away. This is from Cracker Barrel’s official statement:

“During the time he was employed, he [Koblenzer] violated the Company’s policies regarding consuming food without paying or giving away free food, on five separate occasions,” the statement read. “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. “Vietnam veteran Joe had worked as a greeter at Cracker Barrel for three years before he was fired for handing a man who “looked a little needy” the muffin.

The unidentified man came through the door and “asked [if] I had any mayonnaise and some tartar sauce,” Koblenzer said. “He said he was going to cook a fish.”

“I got it for him. As I walked out I put a corn muffin in the same bag.” Shortly thereafter, the restaurant’s general manager called him into his office and said he was fired.”

Barbara Cook

Barbara J. Cook (Cookie) is enjoying living in the panhandle of Florida educating special needs children in a middle school (ask her about it sometime!). In order to de-stress, Barbara runs, reads, and writes, and yes, she cooks too: (that's another reason she runs!) She lives with her Mr. Cookie and chickens, dogs, cats and various others. Growing up in Europe as a child and spending several years as a military wife, Cookie learned to appreciate and respect diversity in people choosing to live by the phrase, agree to disagree. What is important to Cookie is family, faith, and fun. Cookie is involved in PolitiChicks because she says 'if we don't, who will?' Visit her website at: and

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