Monday, July 14, 2014

1356 Bottom of the Cracker Barrel

If this doesn’t make your blood boil, there’s something wrong with you.

Cracker Barrel is in trouble again.  This time it’s because it fired a Viet vet in his 70s who gave a homeless guy in Sarasota a muffin and some packets of tartar sauce.

The old fashioned southern themed restaurant chain has a worthy rap sheet.

Back in the early 1990s it circulated a staff memo which said in not so many words “if you appear to be gay, you go away.”  People lost jobs.

Founder Dan Evins said that was a mistake.

Really, now?

Fast forward to 2004 when the Justice Department said the chain segregated customers by race, providing worse and slower service to non- white customers and seating them last.

In 2008 Cracker Barrel distinguished itself yet anew by coming in with the lowest score in the Human Rights Campaign’s measure of LGBT treatment in chain restaurants.

And now, it’s after Joe Koblenzer.  He’s white and as far as we know straight.  So what was his sin?

A homeless guy with a fish walked in, said he was going to cook it over an outdoor fire and asked Joe for some condiments so he could dress up his “dinner.”  Joe knuckled under to this highly unreasonable request and gave him not only the tartar sauce but one of those small stomach-sinker muffins the restaurant sells.

Not only that, but Joe once took a coke and didn’t pay for it. And he stands accused of giving another customer down on her luck a free cup of coffee… although he denies that.

Grand larceny fish sauce.  Get this guy off the streets.  Book him, Danno.

A cup of coffee there costs … what, a buck? Two? Condiment packets go for about $50 a ton, even less when you use auto-delivery.

And muffins?  Doesn’t matter what they cost.  After sitting in the tray for an hour, they sell them to concrete companies at a good profit.

And then the corporation puts out this memo with a straight face:

“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.
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.”
We’re especially impressed with the punchline about honoring his military service.

Counseling?  Wouldn’t you like to be a fly on the wall when that was going on.

Joe told the local ABC TV affiliate that they certainly had the right to fire him, and of the negative publicity “I wouldn’t wish that...” on them.

And he’s looking for a new job to help bolster his meager Social Security check.  But probably not in a restaurant.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2014

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