Press "Enter" to skip to content

The strange case of the 'egg pig': Charlottesville police charge local man with vandalism of popular barbecue joint

Charlottesville police have arrested and charged a local man with the vandalism that caused tens of thousands of dollars in damage and forced a weekslong closure of a popular Rose Hill neighborhood restaurant.

Emerson Linden Lopez Stern is charged with property destruction and five other charges related to last month’s vandalism at Ace Biscuit & Barbecue. The 23-year-old was caught on tape, police said.

"I was able to view footage of the breaking & entering and vandalism occurring," wrote Charlottesville police officer Raeann Crowley in her criminal complaint. "The video showed Emerson Stern using a rock to break the glass door and then him going inside the restaurant and destroying property."

In the wake of the overnight destruction discovered on March 30, the Concord Avenue restaurant released pictures showing the extent of the damage, including smashed sinks and toilets, broken windows and ruined computer screens. Shards of liquor bottles littered the bar’s floor, while flour, sauces and oils were strewn throughout the kitchen.

A manager estimated the damage at $50,000, according to Crowley’s report, which noted that the company’s catering van, parked outside, was found with shattered windows and a chunk of concrete in its cabin.

Arrested on the afternoon of April 6, Stern faces six charges including three felonies: destruction of property, entering a structure to damage it and breaking and entering to assault.

"We’re relieved to share that the individual responsible for the damage has been apprehended and will be held accountable for their actions," Ace posted on Facebook. "We extend our heartfelt gratitude to everyone for your unwavering support."

In the wake of the vandalism, many of Ace’s fans and online followers commented that the damage’s severity suggested the perpetrator had a personal motive. According to police, that appears to be the case.

Stern’s court file alleges he had been fired from the establishment on March 14.

"He does not do any work, and he eats the eggs," was how an employee explained Stern’s ouster to Charlottesville police officer Katherine Chabot.

The court file indicates that the destruction that shuttered the restaurant was the second instance of vandalism to strike Ace. On March 21, police were summoned when recently delivered kitchen equipment, stored outside the building, had been damaged. A cartoon ridiculing an Ace employee had also been posted to the building’s back door.

By then, the employee caricatured as "the anal egg pig" had already filed a no-contact restraining order against Stern. Two alleged instances of violating that protective order are among the charges that Stern faces. He also faces a stalking charge.

"I’m gonna shove you in a locker," Stern allegedly texted the employee. "I’m gonna shove an egg into you."

The restaurant is best known for its biscuits and barbecue, as its name would suggest, but as many as five of the seven "classic sandwiches" on its menu feature eggs. Prior to the vandalism, Stern had allegedly sent several texts to a group of employees to ascertain who had accused him of eating company eggs.

"The longer I have to wait to find out who you are, the more eggs I’m going to insert inside of you," Stern allegedly texted.

Stern’s only prior criminal offense is a 2020 reckless driving conviction with a suspended jail sentence. He was clocked driving 107 mph in a 65 mph zone on Interstate 64.

The Daily Progress’ efforts to reach Stern were unsuccessful, and the court record does not indicate whether he has obtained counsel. Stern’s next court appearance is slated for May 9.

The restaurant likely won’t reopen by then.

"The damage was more extensive than we realized," Ace owner Stefan Friedman told The Daily Progress. "Even the smoker was whacked at pretty heavily."

Friedman said his employees remain on the payroll and are helping to reopen Ace with improvements, including a new outdoor, walk-in freezer and a new deck.

"As long as to we have to be down, we might as well make lemonade from lemons," Friedman said. "It will be mid-May at best."

Friedman said that he was stunned by the number of items destroyed inside the restaurant.

"Pretty much everything," he said. "Except the security cameras."


Be First to Comment

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *