THE BLOG

To the CEO of Cracker Barrel

07/01/2014 01:47 pm ET | Updated Aug 31, 2014
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Dear Ms. Sandra B Cochran (CEO of Cracker Barrel),

My name is Tony Posnanski and like many people, I heard about the dismissal of Joe Koblenzer. Your organization terminated his employment because he gave a man a corn muffin.

I understand that rules are rules and basically he stole from the company. He has done this before. Some reports say twice and other reports say five times. Of course, either way he broke the rules. He had a soda one time. I think that Cracker Barrel does not allow employees to drink soda unless they pay for it. Most other restaurants do. Most restaurants understand that soda costs close to five cents a glass so they give it to employees as a benefit.

I heard that Joe also gave away a cup of coffee to a woman. Some reports say that the coffee was paid for. Either way he was documented for each instance.

Now Joe was terminated for giving away a corn muffin. Reports say that a guest came in who appeared homeless. Joe is the greeter. A 73-year-old Vietnam veteran. The man asked Joe for mayonnaise and tartar sauce because he said that he was going to make fish. Joe had a feeling that the man was hungry so he brought him the mayonnaise and tartar sauce. He also put a corn muffin in the bag for the man.

Later Joe was brought to the office and terminated. He understood. He broke the rules.

Finding good help in Florida is hard. Especially nice and loyal people. Joe made close to eight dollars an hour as a greeter. He worked there for three years and served in the military, just like you did.

Rules are rules, right?

When I heard that he was terminated I thought about my Dad. He worked in textiles for numerous years until most of the business went overseas. He looked for small jobs and found one in a retail-clothing store.

My dad is a man who would give someone food if they needed it. He would give someone the shirt off of his back. If he was eating something and saw that another person was hungry, he would give him the food he was eating. That is the man my father is.

He was terminated from his job. I knew he broke the rules. I think he tried to give someone who did not have any money a discount but I will never actually know.

So I looked into the whole "corn muffin." Last time I ate at Cracker Barrel (which has been a while) I remember the corn muffins were free. They came with each and every meal and they were easily requested for the table as well.

So I thought maybe it changed. I looked online but could not find out that much. I did not see specific pricing. The only information I saw about the corn muffin is that it came free with most meals.

I wondered how much a corn muffin would be?

So I called a Cracker Barrel in Orlando, Florida. I asked to speak to a server/togo specialist and I asked how much a corn muffin was. She seemed confused. She told me they were free with meals. I asked her what if I wanted to just buy one and she told me to call back because they were busy. I understood so I hung up.

I called a second one in Orlando, Florida and the woman told me that you could not buy an individual corn muffin. It is too hard to ring in the computer. She told me you could get six for $2.49. You could buy a dozen for $4.59. When I asked her how much one would be, she reiterated you could not get one. She told me that they come free with meals. I told her I just wanted one and she told me that if I get a meal they are free. She told me I could not purchase one but if I really wanted to, she would ask a manager how to ring it in the computer specifically.

Then I called another Cracker Barrel close to the one in Sarasota, FL. I asked how much were corn muffins and they told me the same information. Then I asked her if they come with every meal and the server told me they did, except for meals with bread like sandwiches and pancakes. I asked the girl if I asked for corn muffins would I get them even if I ordered a sandwich and she said yes. I then asked her if I could get a couple corn muffins if I sit down and she told me yes.

I then called a Cracker Barrel in Jacksonville, FL. I asked the togo /server on the phone how much a corn muffin would be. She told me they sell them in multiple amounts, not each. I told her I just wanted one. She told me they came with my meal. I then asked her if I came in could I get a couple of muffins. She told me yes if I ask the server.

Which leads me to this question. How would you even pay for a corn muffin if no one knows how to ring it in? Joe probably sees many of these thrown away every day because they are over their shelf life.

Not only that, but based on the information given, it seems like it would cost Cracker Barrel more for the condiments Joe gave than the muffin. Condiments he is allowed to give away.

Joe did not give money from the register. Joe did not give away merchandise. He gave away a corn muffin that is given to almost every person that walks into Cracker Barrel. Not only that, but he gave it to a man that was hungry. The man did not ask him for food. Joe felt like he needed it.

Rules are rules but it is not like he took things for his own profit. In fact, I would assume you throw away the muffins after a short time. Who is to say he did not get one from the trash? Who is to say that he did not get one from another table or that a guest gave it to him to give to the homeless man?

Joe represents Cracker Barrel. Most of your restaurants are off of a highway or interstate. I am sure that wanderers come in often. Most would yell "GET OUT!" Joe wanted to help one with a muffin.

I hope you look into this a little more and reconsider his employment or at least help him find a job in the Sarasota area. The dollar amount he gave away in his time at Cracker Barrel (which includes a coffee that was paid for, a soda and a muffin) is less than five dollars. How many people did he impact at the door? How many people came back because of Joe?

What if I were willing to pay the money back along with giving him a Cracker Barrel expense account of fifty dollars so he can do nice things for people who need it?

If not I understand. I will do everything I can to help Joe find another restaurant to work at in Sarasota, FL. I do know a good amount of people in Florida.

It is just a shame you fired a man over a muffin that no one knows how to ring in the register.

Sincerely,

Tony Posnanski