Advertisement
Share

Burbank erects fence around restaurant that has repeatedly defied COVID health orders

Tinhorn Flats Saloon & Grill
The city of Burbank also placed sandbags at the entrance to Tinhorn Flats Saloon & Grill to prevent it from opening.
(Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Times)

The city of Burbank on Saturday put up a chain-link fence around a local restaurant that has repeatedly defied county health orders during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The fence was erected around the Tinhorn Flats Saloon & Grill in the 2600 block of West Magnolia Boulevard to prevent the owners from reopening under unsafe conditions.

The city, which received permission from a judge to shut off power to the business last month, secured a preliminary injunction Friday to prevent the restaurant from operating without a county health permit and a city conditional use permit, Burbank Police Lt. Derek Green said.

The 20-year-old operator of the bar and grill has been arrested three times this month for defying health and safety orders.

Local residents on both sides of the issue have staged demonstrations over the closure for several days, and crowds of dozens of protesters have strained police resources, especially during busy weekend nights, Green said.

Advertisement

“We will be out there to maintain peace and order,” he said. “The groups have been peaceful for the most part. But people who live around the small-business district have been impacted by the commotion.”

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mitchell L. Beckloff on Friday told attorney Mark J. Geragos on behalf of the restaurant that he was welcome to file a motion to modify the injunction, which is tailored along the same lines as the temporary restraining order the judge imposed against the Western-themed watering hole on March 8.

The judge did not levy any sanctions against the restaurant owner, who has defied health orders and continued to offer outdoor dining at a time it was banned in Los Angeles County as a way of limiting the spread of the coronavirus.

Geragos said he would move to have the preliminary injunction dissolved. He also complimented his opposing counsel, Deputy City Atty. Michael M. Lee.

“I wish our clients got along as well as Mr. Lee and I do,” Geragos said.

The city maintains the restaurant is an ongoing public nuisance.

Lucas Lepejian, the 20-year-old son of the restaurant’s owner, was taken into custody about 9:40 a.m. Tuesday after Burbank police said he was seen removing sandbags placed in front of the building to keep anyone from entering. He was cited and released a few hours later; it was his third arrest in six days.

Burbank Assistant City Atty. Anita Clarke told The Times that no determination had been made about what, if any, charges would be brought, but a criminal misdemeanor is a possibility.

Tinhorn Flats owner Baret Lepejian, who lives in Thailand while his children operate the restaurant, told The Times that he supported his son’s actions and vowed not to pay the roughly $50,000 in fines that had been levied against the business.

“Show me one shred of evidence how I am endangering the public,” he said. “This has never been about safety or the public. It’s never been about that. This whole thing is about fear and control.”


Advertisement