Tinhorn Flats owner says he sawed through boards to reopen restaurant despite restraining order

California city puts fence around restaurant where owner won’t stop serving despite lockdown

The owner’s son has been arrested thrice so far for repeatedly violating Covid-19 safety protocol

Maroosha Muzaffar
Monday 12 April 2021 08:55
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A restaurant in Burbank, California, that repeatedly violated Covid safety protocols was fenced by city authorities in a bid to prevent people from entering the area.

The owner of Tinhorn Flats Saloon & Grill on Magnolia Boulevard in San Fernando Valley of Southern California has, in fact, already been arrested by police thrice for Covid protocol violations. He is also accused of removing the sandbags that the city put up around the periphery of the restaurant to prevent its reopening.

Burbank city authorities were forced to put up a chain-link fence surrounding the restaurant but the owners have said that they’ll fight the decision to the end. Derek Green, a Burbank Police Lt told local media that the city received a preliminary injunction on Friday to prevent the restaurant from operating without a county health permit and a city conditional use permit.

Burbank city authorities had also received permission from a judge to shut off the power supply to Tinhorn Saloon & Grill.

Burbank county has maintained that the restaurant and its owner are a nuisance to the safety of the public. Last week, the owner’s 20-year old son Lucas Lepejian was taken into custody after he was found removing the sandbags that the authorities had placed around the restaurant. He was later released.

In this ongoing tussle between the restaurant owner and the Burbank city officials, there have also been a few protests supporting both sides.

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

Last week after removing the sandbags, the restaurant posted on their Instagram: “This is the kind of Police Enforcement we are dealing with… they are coming in heavy-handed afraid that Tinhorn Flats will make burgers and serve beers. Lucas is back out of jail for the 3rd time. What a truly sad time in Burbank CA. We will not comply.”

Baret Lepejian who owns the restaurant and lives in Thailand while his son looks after the business told local media that he supported his son’s actions. He has also refused to pay the fine of about $50,000 that the city has levied against the restaurant.

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

At least 30,000 restaurants in Los Angeles County have been closed to in-person diners since the start of the pandemic.

In the months since the pandemic started last year, more than 30,000 restaurants in LA County were closed to in-person diners after a statewide shutdown order in March relegated them to offering takeout.

Last month also, Tinhorn had violated the order and posted on their social media that they were opening doors and that they “will NOT comply with illegal and unconstitutional rules and mandates.” Many complaints were also filed against the restaurant by the public for violating the coronavirus health concerns.

The court papers said: “The vast majority of restaurants did their part and acted as good citizens by complying with these orders, despite the tremendous difficulty and hardship they have suffered as a result. Not everyone has borne the sacrifice willingly.”

As per the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center, Los Angeles County has had more than 1.2 million Covid positive cases so far and 23,390 deaths till date — highest than in any other county in the country.

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