Local Restaurant Defies Dining Ban

Dozens of patrons sit at the outdoor patio of the Tinhorn Flats Saloon and Grill in Burbank

Baret Lepejian, owner of Tinhorn Flats Saloon & Grill in Burbank, said he loves the city’s Police Department. But the only way he’s closing his restaurant, he added, is if officers drag him away at gunpoint.

Lepejian is no stranger to controversy; his Facebook posts declaring that his business would not enforce face covering requirements for customers earned him condemnation from many local residents and praise from some others in October.

But the restaurateur’s decision to reopen Tinhorn Flats’ patio on Thursday despite a statewide health order banning in-person dining — a defiance not shared by most of Burbank’s businesses — seems to echo some of the growing desperation felt by many eateries’ owners.

“What have I got to lose? If it stays this way, I’m going to lose the restaurant anyway,” Lepejian said. “I would rather go down with the ship than close.

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Restrictions Return as COVID-19 Cases Soar

As county and state officials announced renewed stay-at-home-orders this week amid record new coronavirus cases, Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center grappled with a surge of COVID-19 hospitalizations that showed little signs of diminishing.
Dr. Mariam Torossian, a pulmonary disease specialist at the Burbank hospital, said its officials observed the surge begin about three weeks ago and accelerate since then — and she worries that the situation isn’t getting better.
“I think what’s frightening is that this is not reflective of what we’re going to see as a consequence of the Thanksgiving holiday,” she said, referencing a period during which, experts fear, many people held private gatherings with members of other households. “The worst is yet to come.”

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Local Restaurants Struggle With Dining Ban

Photo by Christian Leonard / Burbank Leader
Michel LeChasseur, who owns Ma’s Italian Kitchen in Burbank, said he feels restaurants are being unfairly singled out by Los Angeles County officials for a rise in COVID-19 cases.

Michel LeChasseur, owner of Ma’s Italian Kitchen in Burbank, said his business is on its last legs. He also said his restaurant is one of the lucky ones.
LeChasseur said the eatery, which made much of its revenue from its catering services to production studios, is bringing in less than a third of what it did before the COVID-19 pandemic. He had to slash employees’ hours and lay off 14 of his 22 workers. He added that he even chose to forgo his own salary so he could keep paying his workers; his husband’s job is keeping them both afloat.
Still, LeChasseur learned to adjust, though he watched eight friends lose their restaurants during the pandemic. He spread out tables on his restaurant’s patio and bought Plexiglas shields to protect customers. His servers wore gloves and two layers of masks. As the colder months approached, he purchased heaters.

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Pandemic Recovery and More: Councilmen-Elect Detail Plans

Change could be coming to Burbank, according to the two new City Council members its residents elected.
Both Konstantine Anthony and Nick Schultz ran on progressive platforms that included ideas involving police reform and increased resources for people experiencing homelessness, and pledged to help the city recover from the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We absolutely need change in the city,” Anthony said, pointing out that only two of the eight candidates, himself included, had run for a seat on the panel before. “There is not a single person I’ve talked to who didn’t have something that they needed changed in this city. It was a change election. So let’s do it — let’s make some change.”

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Plant for Greener Burbank Campaign Underway

The city of Burbank’s “Plant for a Greener Burbank” initiative is a collaborative effort between Parks and Recreation, Burbank Water and Power, Community Development and Public Works to plant a minimum of 500 additional trees throughout the city in homes, businesses, streets and parks for the 2021 calendar year.
With each tree planted, the city is improving the health and well-being of the neighborhoods and the overall Burbank community.
Burbank residents and businesses are invited to join the campaign.
Here’s how:
• Free shade tree program from Burbank Water and Power customers can request free shade trees for their home or business. Residents can select up to three trees and Burbank businesses can select up to 20 trees. BWP is now taking reservations for the 2021 program year.
• Community tree plantings at city parks with parks and recreation
Grab a shovel and join the campaign in planting trees. Burbank Parks and Recreation is inviting households to participate in planting trees at city parks. Currently, tree plantings are limited to household members only and staff will ensure social distancing measures be in place. Join the volunteer list and look out for opportunities beginning in January 2021.
For more information and to sign up for these opportunities, visit burbankca.gov/greenerburbank or call (818) 238-5314.

Burbank Majority Voted for Biden Amid Rise in Turnout

In what is likely little surprise to residents of the Democratic stronghold, most voters in Burbank cast ballots for President-elect Joseph Biden, though local supporters of President Donald Trump also came out in greater numbers than in 2016.
A ballot breakdown for Los Angeles County that was released this week after results were certified showed that out of the 58,220 Burbank voters who cast a ballot for president, 39,375, or 67.6%, went with Biden. Another 30.3% — 17,672 people — voted for Trump in the Nov. 3 election.
For comparison, in 2016, 30,835 (66.5%) Burbank voters cast their ballot for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, while 12,718 (27.4%) voted for Trump.

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Konstantine, Schultz Win Council Seats

Nearly a month after Election Day, the final ballot results from Los Angeles County are in: Konstantine Anthony and Nick Schultz are expected to join the Burbank City Council in December.

Anthony soared into first place early in the ballot count process, with 17,529 votes as of Monday, Nov. 30 — when the L.A. County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk certified the results. Schultz maintained a consistent lead for the second open council seat, with 13,105 voters having cast a ballot for him. The pair will be sworn in to the City Council at a reorganization meeting on Dec. 14.

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October Figures Show an Easing of Unemployment

The unemployment rate in Burbank fell to 12.2% in October, according to preliminary data, dropping to half of the peak levels reached in May — good news that contrasted with restrictions on commercial activity that were ordered in the last few days because of a resurgent COVID-19.
Approximately 7,200 Burbank workers remained unemployed last month, according to the California Employment Development Department, down from 9,500 (16.4%) in September and a height of 13,500 (23.9%) in May. Burbank’s February unemployment rate was 5.1%.
The joblessness rate in Los Angeles County also continued to fall to a similar level, reaching 12.1% in October.
Statewide, the unemployment rate descended to single digits for the first time since the pandemic began, falling from 11.1% in September to 9.3% in October. The motion picture industry, which has a major presence in Burbank, saw a 6.8% increase in employment, though it had 30.8% fewer workers than a year ago.

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BUSD’s Verdict: Distance Learning for Entire Year

For the past month, Superintendent Matt Hill warned of the possibility that Burbank Unified School District students would need to continue distance learning for the remainder of the academic year.
The recent surge of COVID-19 cases made that a reality on Monday.
BUSD officials had held out hope that students might be able to safely return to campus for in-person instruction in the second semester, but Hill this week sent a message informing parents, students and employees that the district has decided to commit to distance learning.

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BHRC Gathers Art for Exhibition Denouncing Hate

Photo courtesy Burbank Human Relations Council
The Burbank Human Relations Council will hold an exhibition of posters online. The pieces will also be viewable at the Geo Gallery from Monday, Nov. 30, to Friday, Dec. 11.

The Burbank Human Relations Council is asking community members to drop off poster board art to be displayed at an upcoming exhibition as part of “United Against Hate” week.
Anyone in Burbank can submit an art piece, which must be made on standard poster board that is no larger than 28 inches by 20 inches. Pieces are being accepted today, Nov. 28, between 9 a.m. and noon at the Geo Gallery at 1545 Victory Blvd. Contributors can schedule other drop-offs by texting or calling (818) 860-2472.
The BHRC will then display the pieces, representing the theme “Stand Together Against Hate,” from Monday, Nov. 30-Friday, Dec. 11 at Geo. Only two viewers will be allowed at a time because of restrictions related to COVID-19, but the pieces will also be viewable on the BHRC website and Facebook page.

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