First published in the Oct. 2 print issue of the Burbank Leader.
The owner of the Tinhorn Flats Saloon and Grill site is asking Burbank residents to help her pay for the costs of evicting the restaurant’s operator and overdue property taxes.
Isabelle Lepejian, who is also the former wife of Tinhorn Flats restaurateur Baret Lepejian, launched the online fundraiser recently on a GoFundMe page titled “Tin Horn Flats Left a Big Mess Behind!” On the page, Isabelle Lepejian said she aims to raise $35,000 for expenses associated with the controversial restaurant, which she evicted in June after a months-long feud between her ex-husband and government agencies.
Lepejian reiterated that she had nothing to do with Tinhorn Flats’ actions, which included defying restrictions on restaurants at the time by resuming in-person dining in December, breaking locks that the city had placed on the establishment’s doors and encouraging supporters to protest the removal of its health and local permits.
“I finally had enough of the Tin Horn’s daily shenanigans and the weekend protesting so I made the decision to evict them from the building,” Isabelle Lepejian wrote on the fundraiser page. “Tin Horn Flats refused to comply with city, county and state laws.”
She previously stated that she evicted the restaurant for not trying to regain its required permits, the absence of which she said violated their lease agreement.
The property owner also said that her lease with the restaurant required Baret Lepejian to pay property taxes, but that he hadn’t paid them since 2019. The bill has since grown to $24,000 including interest and fees, she added.
Other bills, Isabelle Lepejian wrote in the post, include legal fees incurred in evicting Tinhorn Flats and defending herself against her inclusion in Burbank’s lawsuit against her ex, as well as the costs of cleaning and repairing the restaurant.
Lepejian has also said that the rent she received from Tinhorn Flats was her sole source of income. A recent auction of much of Tinhorn Flats’ equipment, she noted in an interview, might net her less than $2,400. She added that she was hesitant to launch the GoFundMe but said she’s out of options.
“I’m kind of nervous, and … I don’t want to do that, but I have no other choice because [Baret Lepejian] left me with so much [to pay],” she said.
Baret Lepejian launched his own fundraiser in March, a decision he said at the time was urged by his and Isabelle’s children Lucas and Talya, who ran Tinhorn Flats’ operations since their father has remained in Thailand since 2019. The GoFundMe, which the restaurant owner said helps pay for his legal defense against Burbank and Los Angeles County, has since raised about $94,000, though few donations have been made in recent months.
The lawsuits from the city and county against the restaurant continue; Baret Lepejian filed a cross-complaint against both entities in July. He has insisted that the restrictions intended to prevent the spread of the coronavirus are unconstitutional and has frequently denounced vaccine mandates.
Isabelle Lepejian’s relationship with the city has appeared more amicable. She said she has worked with Burbank officials to bring the property, which still sits behind a chain-link fence placed to prevent Tinhorn Flats’ employees from accessing it, back to code.
That would have to be done before she could sell the property, she explained in the fundraiser post — if that’s the route she decides to take. But she’s worried that the new owner would change the style of the restaurant, saying that some neighbors have asked her to retain the look of the building.
“Even if I sell it, I just want to [break] even,” she added. “I don’t want to make money from people.”