Burbank Threatens Defiant Restaurant With Permit Loss

Photo by Christian Leonard / Burbank Leader
Tinhorn Flats Saloon and Grill’s reopening of its outdoor patio in violation of county and state health orders brought the attention of news crews, supportive diners and frustrated residents. Now, the city is stepping in.

Nearly a month after the eatery announced it would serve diners in-person, despite prohibitive state health orders, Burbank officials have pledged to revoke Tinhorn Flats Saloon and Grill’s permit unless it complies.
Community development director Patrick Prescott issued a notice of violation to Baret Lepejian, owner of Tinhorn Flats, on Jan. 8, saying the restaurant must return to offering only delivery and take-out services and require all employees and patrons to wear face coverings by Tuesday. If Lepejian continues to keep his eatery’s outdoor patio open, the City Council will hold a public hearing to consider suspending or revoking Tinhorn Flats’ conditional use permit on Feb. 22.

The notice also alleges that Tinhorn Flats “has sold and/or served alcohol to underage patron(s).”
“This is a difficult time in history,” Mayor Bob Frutos said in a public statement. “The City Council is often being pulled in different directions that don’t always align but we have mandates to protect our community and comply with state and county orders. It is the council’s hope that the owner of Tinhorn Flats will comply with his CUP, state and county mandates that currently allow only take-out or delivery service.”
Lepejian reopened his restaurant on Dec. 10, flouting county and state health orders banning in-person dining as coronavirus cases skyrocketed and overwhelmed intensive care units with patients. Hundreds of complaints made their way to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, which cited the restaurant at least 10 times and will attempt to permanently revoke its health license sometime next week.
After reports from city officials, the state Alcoholic Beverage Control department is also considering pulling Tinhorn Flats’ alcohol permit. But it was not until recently that Burbank itself made a direct move against the restaurant.
“We were allowing other regulatory entities to move forward with their processes and were hoping for voluntary compliance,” Simone McFarland, the city’s communications manager. “We continue to hope that with issuing the notices, they will voluntarily comply.”
Lepejian declined to comment on the notice of violation, though he has said repeatedly that he will not close his business if his health permit is revoked by the county. He also previously declared that he would not require patrons to wear face coverings, and has denounced health orders as tyrannical, arguing that COVID-19 doesn’t kill the young or healthy.
In response to a question regarding what enforcement measures the city might take if Tinhorn Flats continued operations if its conditional use permit was revoked, McFarland wrote that, “The hearing is to consider modification, suspension or revocation of the CUP, if the restaurant doesn’t come into compliance. The city won’t speculate as to outcomes.”
She added that the Feb. 22 date for a potential hearing was based on availability notice requirements in the city code.

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