Erik C. Andersen’s most recent visit to Tinhorn Flats Saloon and Grill was in 2019, when his company rented out the restaurant for a mixer. But that event may have marked the last time he’d ever visit. Tinhorn Flats has been open recently, of course. Its defiance of coronavirus public health orders prohibiting in-person dining, and continued operations despite losing its permits and fighting the city and county in court, have garnered the restaurant national fame. Supporters both local and outside of Burbank have rallied to the eatery’s defense, seeing the city’s efforts to close it as government overreach.
A county judge has ordered a preliminary injunction against Tinhorn Flats Saloon and Grill, issuing the tentative ruling he made two weeks ago. The preliminary injunction legally replaces the temporary restraining order the city issued barring Tinhorn Flats from operating since March 8. The injunction, as Judge Mitchell Beckloff noted in his tentative ruling, doesn’t place any new requirements on the restaurant. Beckloff issued a tentative ruling on March 26 but Tinhorn Flats’ attorneys requested two weeks to meet with the city’s representatives and seek a compromise. None was reached. “[Tinhorn Flats parent company] Barfly suggests it will suffer grave or irreparable harm from the issuance of a preliminary injunction,” Beckloff wrote in his tentative ruling. “Barfly fails to offer any specific facts or evidence to substantiate its argument. In reality, any harm Barfly has suffered is related to the loss of its health permit and [conditional use permit] after administrative hearings.
The 20-year-old son of the Tinhorn Flats Saloon and Grill owner was arrested Thursday night after removing a city-placed lock from the restaurant’s doors and welcoming patrons inside. The arrest came just a day after Lucas Lepejian, son of owner Baret Lepejian, sawed off the latch to a crowd of cheering supporters. The restaurant, which has operated without its health and conditional use permits for weeks, was “red-tagged” — or declared unsafe and thereby not legally accessible — on Wednesday. On Thursday, Tinhorn Flats also reported it had removed boards the city had placed to block its doors.
A judge gave a tentative ruling on Friday in favor of the city’s preliminary injunction against Tinhorn Flats Saloon and Grill, but the decision will not be finalized until April 9, allowing for the possibility of a settlement.
Tinhorn Flats has remained open for months since December, when its outdoor patio reopened in violation of state and county health orders. The practice resulted in the restaurant’s health and local permits being revoked, and now it faces lawsuits from the city of Burbank and Los Angeles County over the owner’s refusal to close the eatery.
A spokeswoman for the city said that the restaurant’s attorney requested the judge delay his decision because it is believed the two parties might settle their issues out of court. Though Burbank’s representatives argued against the delay, Beckloff continued the hearing to next month. Tinhorn Flats, still under a temporary restraining order, remains legally barred from operating.
County Judge Mitchell Beckloff’s tentative ruling said that Barfly, Inc., the parent company of Tinhorn Flats, “has submitted no evidence in support of its opposition. It has submitted argument only.” Continue reading “Court Delays Ruling in Tinhorn Flats Case”
The Burbank City Council sued Tinhorn Flats Saloon and Grill for operating without a permit in February. The restaurant launched a GoFundMe to help afford legal fees. Last week, Burbank Water and Power cut power to the facility. Supporters brought generators. This week, the city padlocked the doors. The eatery cut the latch. The ongoing feud between the city of Burbank and Tinhorn Flats has escalated recently, with the latter circumventing officials’ attempts to enforce local and county rulings made against the restaurant for defying health orders and operating without the required permits.
Tinhorn Flats Saloon and Grill was open on Tuesday, Feb. 23 — illegally — in light of a City Council decision the night before. But customers filed in all the same.
It wasn’t that they were unaware that the council had revoked the restaurant’s operational permit. Several mentioned it explicitly. Some seemed to see ordering a burger and beer as an act of rebellion against what they saw as government overreach: the issuance of restrictive health orders aimed to slow a pandemic that has killed more than 500,000 Americans.
Los Angeles County filed a civil complaint against Tinhorn Flats Saloon and Grill this week, arguing that the restaurant violated COVID-19 health orders. The complaint, filed Wednesday against Barfly Inc. — which operates Tinhorn Flats — and restaurant owner Baret Lepejian alleges the establishment refused to close its outdoor patio when county and state orders prohibited al fresco dining several weeks ago. The county is asking the court to require the restaurant to adhere to the orders and pay fines for each day it allegedly violated them, as well as attorneys’ fees.
A local restaurant failed to show this week that it was complying with a ban on in-person dining, a city spokesman said, meaning the City Council could revoke or suspend the business’ permit next month. Tinhorn Flats Saloon and Grill, which has since December operated in open defiance of county and state health orders prohibiting in-person dining, did not provide evidence by a city-imposed Tuesday deadline that it had remedied its violations, public information specialist Jonathan Jones confirmed. A public hearing is scheduled for Feb. 22 at 5 p.m. between the restaurant owner and the City Council, during which the city panel could revoke, suspend or modify Tinhorn Flats’ conditional use permit.
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.
A hearing at which a Los Angeles County department will attempt to revoke the health permit of a local restaurant that continues to offer outdoor dining in defiance of government restrictions is scheduled for the week of Jan. 17, according to county officials. An exact date was not immediately available. Tinhorn Flats Saloon and Grill, which has offered in-person dining since Dec. 10, has frustrated many local residents and city officials concerned that the practice could contribute to the spread of COVID-19, in which there has been a major surge. A state health order prohibits in-person dining in most of California because of overburdened hospital intensive care units, and a county health order did the same in late 2020.