Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com March 1, 2012 at 8:49 am 4,000 46 Comments

Death Penalty Sought for Torrez — Former Marine Jorge Torrez, who’s already serving a life sentence for raping and abducting an Arlington woman, is now facing a separate murder trial. Prosecutors say they’re seeking the death penalty for Torrez, who’s accused of murdering Navy petty officer Amanda Jean Snell in her barracks on Fort Myer in 2009. [WTOP]

Involuntary Bankruptcy for Market Tavern? — Creditors are trying to force newly-renovated Clarendon restaurant Market Tavern (formerly Harry’s Tap Room) into bankruptcy, claiming the eatery owes them at least $77,000 in unpaid debts. Owner Michael Sternberg says the proceedings won’t have an impact on the restaurant’s operations. [Washington Business Journal]

Elevation Burger Expanding — Arlington-based organic burger chain Elevation Burger is expanding. The restaurant now has 29 locations worldwide, but is planning to have 50 locations by the end of the year. The concept is proving especially popular in the Middle East. Meanwhile, the company is testing out two new burger toppings — hardwood smoked bacon and sauteed mushrooms — at its Arlington location (2447 North Harrison Street). [Nation’s Restaurant News]

Historic Designation for Tiny Cemetery — A tiny, historic cemetery plot at 5000 Lee Highway, in the Hall’s Hill community, is getting some attention as Arlington County moves to designate it as a local historic district. The oldest grave in the 7,100 square foot cemetery is that of Margaret Hyson, who died in 1891 and was a former slave on the Hall’s Hill plantation. [Washington Post]

  • Gross

    Hopefully Market Tavern closes and a more reasonably priced and/or a restaurant with better food opens there. Market Tavern has the most overpriced menu to go along with mediocre at best food. I dined there only once and will never return.

    • Josh S

      I didn’t understand this change in the first place. Harry’s seemed like it was doing perfectly fine. Yeah, it was expensive, but it was good, decor was nice, great location. Why change?

      • Captain Obvious

        Michael sold the restaurant to a national management company a few years ago. I noticed a decline in the quality of the food thereafter. The change came when he decided to buy the property back. I wonder if there’s any issue over whether the debts are owed by the current owner or the former one?

        • Sort of…

          Michael’s stayed in an ownership role the entire time actually, though he did partner with a corporate company he bought himself out of the Harry’s chain and name and kept his location at Clarendon which was never hooked up to the partnership (only Pent. city maybe some airport spots, Dulles I think?). But they did lose their head chef because he works with 3 or 4 restaurants based in Boston now (I believe) and he stayed at the Harry’s location in Pentagon City vs transitioning to Market Tavern.

      • Sold out

        Sternberg owned the Clarendon Harry’s, but when opening the Pentagon City Harry’s (now “smokehouse”) he teamed up with another owner and a corporate partner (Centerplate – used to run all the food venues at either verizon or nat’s stadium, can’t remember which)… problem there is that they then invested in the name and brand of “Harry’s”. When he decided corporate wasn’t the way he really wanted to go and wanted to go back to small business and his own location, he bought out but had to change the name and branding slightly because they then owned “Harry’s”.

        Kind of sad in the long run because the name “Harry’s” came from his family background and connection to Harry of “Sam & Harry’s” so he had to sell a family name to keep his business and take the steps backward that he wanted to take. Meh.

        He’s a nice guy, I wish him luck, but I’m not all that excited about Market Tavern either way.

  • Frank

    Not that I think thAt this guy Torrez deserves any kind of break, but hey Virginia legislators…if you are pro-life it needs to be ALL life…you don’t get to kill one person even if they suck as a human being.

    When will see the death penalty abolished?

    • Josh S


      Plenty of hypocrisy to go around.

      • CarolynP


        It’s a federal case, not in the Virginia circuit. Plenty of ill-informed comments to go around.

        • jackson

          But the point that Virginia has an active death penalty at the same time it’s throwing roadblocks at women wanting legal abortions is still valid, so I guess +1 -1 = 0.

    • nunya

      at the very least, he deserves a trans urethral ultrasound.

      • JamesE

        That is how he will be executed.

    • SouthPikeGuy

      Nah, one you choose to throw away your life and take another’s the way this guy did, killing is totally justified. One of the reasons I’m glad to be in Virginia.

    • Clarencarry

      This is a federal prosecution as it occurred on federal property on base. The state of Virginia has no jurisdiction and plays no part.

      • ArlingtonNative

        Maybe you should read the story before posting.

        I would like to think that the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia would know if he can seek the death penalty, hence his decision to file a “Notice of Intent to Seek a Sentence of Death” in this case.

        This guy .. “Prosecutors cite Torrez’s previous convictions and arrests for violent crimes, including the 2005 murders of two children in Illinois, rape, abduction, forcible sodomy, as well as alleged threats to kill a corrections officer, and a plot to kill a witness in a previous crime ”
        .. is someone you want to spend your time defending?

        It’s for guys like him that the death penalty exists.

        • Josh S

          You don’t decide whether or not to have a death penalty on a case-by-case basis.

      • ArlingtonChick

        Actually, just because it’s a federal case doesn’t mean the death penalty can automatically apply–if the state where the crimes occurred did not have the death penalty, then the feds couldn’t ask for it. HOWEVER, in this case, the dude falls under the jurisdiction of the military, which has its own court and rules, and also has the death penalty regardless of where the killing occurred.

        • ArlingtonNative

          Not to make a Federal case out of it … (sorry, couldn’t resist!) … but my understanding is that this is NOT being prosecuted through the military justice system – at least that is not how it comes across from the original story.

          Your statement with regards to feds only being able to seek the DP in states that have this option is correct.

    • Quoth the Raven

      Comparing unborn babies to convicted murderers isn’t exactly a like-to-like comparison. Personally, I don’t like the death penalty but this comparison doesn’t hold much water.

      • CarolynP

        People who make these types of arguments rarely exhibit intellectual consistency.

    • Garden City

      That the social conservative philosophy at work: life begins at conception and ends at birth.

  • PL25rd

    Mmmm, bacon on my Elevation Burger – awesome!

  • DarkHeart

    I hope some meth head doesn’t try to fire up inside that hollowed out tree. At least it’s not a 3500 year old cypress.

  • History Buff

    There are several tiny, very old cemeteries in Arlington. One is right across from the Ballston Metro, at the church there, on Stafford. Another is at St. Anne’s Catholic Church, between N. Frederick and N. Harrison. I believe the one cited in the article has the grave of Revolutionary War hero John Ball, for whom Ballston (and the unfortunately named Balls Crossing) is named.

  • History Buff

    I was mistaken; the Ball grave is at the hidden cemetery behind the VFW on Lee Highway.

    • ArlingtonNative

      … and it is St Ann’s

  • Hokies300

    Anyone know what happened last night on 395 South near King Street? Looks like some type of accident shut the road down for a good 30 – 45 minutes.

  • Burger Me This

    How is Elevation Burger? I’ve heard quite mediocre reviews, so with so many quality burger options in the area, I have never tried Elevation for myself.

    • Quoth the Raven

      I like it. It’s nothing fancy, but good nonetheless. We have a peanut allergy kid, so 5 Guys is a no-go due to the oil. Elevation goes with olive oil, and it tastes pretty good. Good milk shakes too.

    • Hokies300

      IMO it’s sub par compared to other options. It’s just like Five Guys basically.

    • Josh S

      Mediocre is right. You can get worse, but you can definitely get better.

    • Clarendon

      I think it’s not that hard to make a good burger. Elevation’s catch is the organic, grass-fed beef and other quality ingredients. Other than that, its a matter of personal preference which are better than others.

    • FunnyMunny

      Our family is very high on Elevation Burger. They’re not too big, made with natural ingredients, always hot and fresh, great selection of toppings. The menu is simple, burgers, fries, shakes. The fries don’t travel well, best eaten hot right away. I’d say it’s not your “rush in and grab it to go” kind of place, we always eat in when we go.

    • zzzzz

      Elevation Burger just opened at the Tysons Corner mall. I’m actually there more than the Lee-Harrison shopping center, so maybe I’ll finally give them a try.

    • CW

      I think elevation burger tastes like Wendy’s. In fact, I find a lot of the hyped-up places to taste line Wendy’s – Shake Shack is another. A thin patty cooked on a flat top tastes like, well a thin patty cooked on a flat top. Now Ray’s has always been its own thing; that’s good stuff. And Big Buns, mmmm…

      • Rikki Nadir

        CW, your comment reflects my experience exactly.
        It tastes EXACTLY like Wendy’s.
        I had my first experience with Elevation from the Lee Harrison location this past weekend. It’s not a terrible burger, but it is a flat-out Wendy’s clone, and I expect a bit more from a “grass fed free range” burger.

    • PHD

      the fries are excellent

  • Paco Wellington III

    Historic cemetery? The cemetery has graves from 1891 until 1959. That is considered historic?

    The “historic” designation here and in other situations appears to be wholly arbitrary. This designation appears to be more about pandering to proponents than anything significant. There appears to be no purpose for designating the cemetery as “historic.” Plus, given the adjoining church’s abject failure to maintain the cemetery over time, why reward the church with a “historic” designation for the cemetery it ignored for so long?

    Unfortunately, our tax dollars pay for county staff to prance around chirping “historic” “historic” and our federal tax dollars also supports such arbitrary activities. Although not likely relevant to the cemetery, rich white people get tax relief for renovating (and adding on to) “historic” buildings.

  • SomeGuy

    I’m seeing “Your comment is awaiting moderation” next to a recent comment of mine. Is comment moderation a new development? Can you please inform us when/if there’s a change to the commenting system?


  • JimPB

    According to the story that was the source for the ARLNow.Com item abut Elevation Burger, the company has gone beyond testing two new toppings, organic bacon and sauteed mushrooms, to introducing them systemwide.

    From the source story: ” two new toppings — organic bacon and sautéed mushrooms — are being introduced systemwide.”

    • CW

      Hmm, I wonder if the organic bacon will “[prove] especially popular in the Middle East”? Hopefully they get out in front of that one…

  • Thelma

    I think the place should absolutely be forced into bankruptcy. Why is it right for him to hire a contractor who then hires numerous sub contractors to remodel the place and then not pay them for the work done. He gets to get a free remodel? Meanwhile, all of the sub contractors loose their ass and struggle to stay in business because they put time and money into something and never get paid.

    The owner is going to make statements that the restaurant will not be impacted by the fact that it owes thousands of dollars for work done at his establishment. So he parades around in a nicely remodeled place while the owners of the companies that did all the work struggle to pay their bills. I wonder how the owner would like for a large group to sit down, eat, run up a huge tab then just say sorry I want to pay but can’t…and then walk out.

    As if our economy doesn’t have enough problems then you have people like this trying to get over on people.


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