“He thought he was being funny,” Five Guys District Manager Courtney Pechillo said of the worker. “It wasn’t funny.”
Howell, NJ – A Five Guys Burgers and Fries employee has been fired for yelling offensive comments to Howell police when they came to place an order on Friday evening.
The incident occurred at the Five Guys restaurant on Route 9 South, according to the Howell Happenings NJ Facebook page.
“Just walked into Five Guys along with several members of Howell Police Department for dinner,” a witness explained in a Facebook post. “Upon seeing the officers in uniform enter the restaurant, one of the employees behind the counter shouted ‘piggies’ and ‘get out the pork.’”
Other employees behind the counter began to laugh, at which point the witness and the officers immediately left the business, according to Howell Happenings.
“Any establishment that doesn’t support the Howell Road Dogs can close up and relocate,” the witness railed in the post. “The disgraced employee is fortunate to be protected by such an elite police department.”
The witness also noted that the community will not stand quietly by while its officers are disrespected.
“Another example of the moral decay of our culture,” the post read. “HTPD certainly deserves better than this.”
Howell Police Chief Andrew Kudrick confirmed that the witness’s statement about what occurred was true, according to Howell Happenings.
Within hours, restaurant owner Steve Gilmartin issued a statement denouncing the employee’s actions and apologizing for what occurred.
“An employee insulted members of the Howell Township Police Department when they came in to dine this evening,” Gilmartin said, according to Howell Happenings. “The employee in question was terminated immediately as Five Guys has a zero tolerance policy for such situations.”
The employee, identified only as a 17-year-old male who worked for the business for about a year, was fired within two minutes of his offensive outburst, District Manager Courtney Pechillo told the Asbury Press.
“He thought he was being funny,” Pechillo said of the teen. “It wasn’t funny.”
“We never had any issues with him. He was a good worker,” Gilmartin noted. “To say we were surprised is the understatement of a lifetime. He was one of those kids you would never expect anything like this from.”
Employees will also undergo additional training to help prevent similar situations from happening again.
Gilmartin said that the Five Guys chain is a staunch supporter of law enforcement, and that his restaurant has hosted functions in support of local and state law enforcement agencies in the past.
“I would like to take this opportunity to publicly apologize to both the Howell PD as well as the people of Howell for this occurrence,” Gilmartin wrote. “To say I was shocked and embarrassed by this would be a gross understatement.”
In addition to meeting with Gilmartin, Chief Kudrick also received an apology from Pechillo, the Asbury Press reported.
“I spoke to [Chief Kudrick] on the phone and told him we don’t want that in our business and won’t tolerate it,” Pechillo said.
On Saturday morning, Five Guys announced that it will donate 100% of the sales it makes between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Wednesday to the Howell Police Benevolent Association, according to Howell Happenings.
“Let’s help Five Guys in Howell right this wrong,” the group’s post read. “Thank you to owner Steve Gilmartin for extending your hand to get this matter resolved and show your true support to Howell PD and the community who loves them so much.”