Tinhorn Flats Removes City’s Padlocks from Doors

Locks on Tinhorn Flats’ doors placed by city workers on Wednesday morning were later removed. Photo courtesy Jarrod Moore

Just hours after the city of Burbank padlocked Tinhorn Flats’ doors this morning, the restaurant announced it had removed the devices.

Baret Lepejian, the owner of Tinhorn Flats, told the Leader on Monday that he was “pretty sure” he was going to open the locks, though he acknowledged the city could push against him harder for defying a temporary restraining order.

But by around 11 a.m. today, the restaurant posted a picture on its social media page showing a metal tab that had attached the lock to the door had been broken and announced it would open as usual.

The city’s pressure on Tinhorn Flats to close has ramped up quickly in recent weeks, as has national attention on the issue. The restaurant has operated illegally without its health permit and its conditional use permit since the City Council revoked the latter on Feb. 22. The loss of both licenses stemmed from Tinhorn Flats’ reopening of its outdoor patio in December, when county and state health orders prohibited in-person dining.

In an interview with the Leader after the locks were cut, Lepejian reiterated that he’s not going to comply with what he calls “illegal mandates.”

A city spokeswoman said this morning that Burbank officials would “continue to assess and enforce the judge order on a day-by-day basis.”

Earlier, Tinhorn Flats announced on its social media pages that it would remove the front doors of the business ahead of any efforts to padlock them. But that decision apparently didn’t hold. This morning, community members posted pictures of the restaurant’s doors — now arrayed with locks.

“While other Burbank businesses have complied and been a part of our community’s solution, Tin Horn Flats has refused to do its part,” Mayor Bob Frutos said in a news release. “The public assumption is that Tinhorn Flats believes it is above the law.”

The padlocks closure is the city’s latest move against Tinhorn Flats. A judge authorized Burbank officials to switch off the restaurant’s power last Friday, which officials did the following day.

But supporters of the restaurant brought generators as money flowed into its GoFundMe page — more than $26,000 in about two weeks. The Lepejians, who include Baret’s children and Tinhorn Flats managers Lucas and Talya, say the money will be used to pay their legal fees; they have recently hired an additional attorney.

Since then, the Los Angeles County public health department has issued tens of thousands of dollars in fines to the restaurant, and has sued to force the restaurant to close. The county’s court hearing, however, is not scheduled until May.

Another hearing between the city and the restaurant is scheduled for March 26, when city officials say they will ask a judge to grant them a preliminary injunction to keep Tinhorn Flats closed until they receive the proper permits. That order, if permitted, would remain in effect until there is a trial or an appellate court overturns it.

“As a City, the last thing you want to do is shut down a business,” Vice-Mayor Jess Talamantes said in the news release. “At the same time, Tinhorn Flats has forced our hand and the City Council cannot ignore someone that is egregiously breaking the rules. They continue to be insistently defiant, compelling the city to continue to request assistance from the courts as this is our primary remedy to achieve compliance.”

Lepejian, however, shows little signs of backing down.

“There are going to be repercussions on every move that they make,” he told the Leader. “They think there are going to be repercussions for every move I make. That goes for both of us.”