Howell Five Guys teen employee fired after calling cops 'piggies'
After a spate of shootings in the area, the Asbury Park Press rides along with a patrol of Asbury Park by the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office. Asbury Park Press
A 17-year-old worker at Five Guys on Route 9 in Howell crossed the line Friday night after three Howell police officers entered the eatery and he said, "Piggies - get out the pork."
The worker, who had been there about a year, was fired within minutes of the 8 p.m. incident, said District Manager Cortney Pechillo.
"I waited on the phone until he left," Pechillo said of the call she got from the location's manager. "I spoke to (Howell Police Chief Andrew Kudrick) on the phone and told him we don't want that in our business and won't tolerate it."
One of the three Howell police officers who stopped into the burger place for dinner overheard the comment as well as another customer, said Stephen Gilmartin, who owns the Howell Five Guys and several others in Monmouth and Ocean counties.
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The officers walked out of the place and met two others who had arrived there to join the group for dinner, Gilmartin said.
Pechillo went to police headquarters Saturday morning to meet with Kudrick and explain the steps the business took, she said.
In response to the incident, the eatery is hosting a fundraiser for the Howell PBA Local 228 Wednesday night from 5 to 7 p.m. Gilmartin said all the proceeds will go to the PBA along with any donations made by customers. The burger place occasionally hosts similar "dine and donate" events for local sports teams, he said.
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Gilmartin said the 17-year-old had worked at the the eatery for about a year.
"We never had any issues with him. He was a good worker," Gilmartin said. "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."
Other young workers giggled at the comment, but Gilmartin said he believes it was a sudden reaction and not a show of disrespect to the officers. They will undergo training to address the issue, he said.
"He thought he was being funny," Pechillo said of the 17-year-old. "It wasn't funny."
Pechillo said staff were questioned and said that the boy used the word "pigs." But Bernie Gernay, the owner of Ultimate Tree Service, who was in the restaurant at the time posted that he heard the word "piggies."
Gernay also said there were six officers in the restaurant with him at the time.
In a Facebook post late Friday on the Howell Happenings Facebook group page under the title "update from Chief Kudrick," a photo of Kudrick stands under the note "Howell Five Guys, Apology Accepted - Thank you."
Kudrick was in the burger restaurant Saturday afternoon for lunch, Pechillo said.
"He's been really good about it," she said.
Kudrick did not immediately return a voicemail call.
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Ken Serrano has covered crime and breaking news in New Jersey for more than 20 years. Reach him at 732-643-4029 or at email@example.com