HOWELL — The owner of a Five Guys restaurant says he fired an employee after learning that the teenager had referred to police as "piggies" in the presence of five uniformed cops on Friday.

Stephen Gilmartin, the owner of the Route 9 eatery, said he took action after police complained about the incident and it made news on social media, including the Howell Happenings NJ page on Facebook.

"Five police officers from Howell Township came into the store and were ordering their food and one of our employees, a shift worker, made a disparaging remark about police in general while they were there," Gilmartin told New Jersey 101.5.

"They overheard it and unfortunately it caught on social media. We terminated the employee immediately and we're ... trying to put this to bed in terms of letting everybody know obviously that as a local organization we don't condone this and also as a national organization Five Guys doesn't condone it."

Gilmartin said he was meeting with police Chief Andrew Kudrick on Saturday morning to discuss the incident.

The comment was made by a 17-year-old worker working the grill as the officers waited for their order.

"My impression of it, based on speaking to the manager, it was him just trying to be funny to the other people on the crew and said it too loudly and was heard by the officers," Gilmartin said.

The manager on site called the operator of the restaurant and the employee was terminated, according to Gilmartin who described it as an "isolated incident."

NJ State PBA president Patrick Colligan blasted Five Guys in a tweet.

"Our officers put their lives on the line daily and to be disrespected when simply getting a meal is outrageous. We demand an apology by Five Guys and an end to the lack of respect for police," said Colligan, who said he aware the employee was fired.

A spokesman for Howell police did not immediately return a message on Saturday morning.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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