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Los Angeles County settles with Agoura Hills restaurant that defied outdoor dining restrictions

Server carrying beers at eatery
Waitress Shannon Kaufman makes her way with a handful of beers in December while serving customers in the outdoor dining area at Cronies Sports Grill in Agoura Hills.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Los Angeles County has settled its suit with an Agoura Hills restaurant that repeatedly defied public health officials’ outdoor dining ban.

The settlement last week ended a months-long standoff that saw Cronies Sports Grill operating without a public health permit for most of 2021.

According to the settlement, Cronies must pay $9,999 in abatement costs. An additional $25,000 in civil penalties is suspended unless the restaurant violates county codes or the current county health order.

Cronies, located on Kanan Road, continued to serve diners outdoors, disregarding the county health order issued in November 2020 in the face of rising COVID-19 cases. David Foldes, a restaurant co-owner, said defiance of the order was both a matter of survival and a fight against “government overreach.”

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County health officials cited the restaurant multiple times before suspending and ultimately revoking the restaurant’s public health permit in December. The county also issued a cease and desist letter to the restaurant.

The outdoor dining ban was lifted in late January. But Cronies continued to operate without the health permit and the county filed suit that month.

The city of Agoura Hills also filed a criminal complaint earlier this year against the restaurant for operating without a business license and health permit, Foldes said.

Sheriff’s deputies completed the lockout early Tuesday morning. The ex-wife of the saloon and grill owner initiated the eviction.

The “only reason” he and his partners settled with the county was because of the pressure from the city, Foldes said.

“The only way that they [the city] would drop that case or postpone it is if we settled with the county,” Foldes said Wednesday. He added that the restaurant had passed an inspection and was expected to receive its health permit.

The seeming conclusion of the Cronies suit comes in direct contrast to the situation involving Burbank’s Tinhorn Flats restaurant, which also repeatedly flouted COVID dining restrictions.

As it did with Cronies, the county issued several citations to Tinhorn Flats and revoked its health permit.

The city of Burbank also enacted measures against the restaurant, revoking its conditional use permit, installing sandbags, fencing and a padlock to block entrance, and receiving permission from a judge to cut the restaurant’s power.

The restaurant posted signs about vaccine requirements, but city officials said employees should demand proof of vaccination from customers, the company said.

Lucas Lepejian, the son of the restaurant’s owner, was arrested multiple times during the restaurant’s battle with the city, once for removing the city sandbags.

The restaurant was ultimately evicted from its storefront this summer.


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