Burbank Puts Fence around Tinhorn Flats; Protests Continue

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - The city of Burbank has put up a chain-link fence around a restaurant which has repeatedly defied COVID-19 mandates, while people continued to demonstrate on both sides of the issue.  

The fence was erected Saturday around the business at 2623 W. Magnolia Blvd. to prevent the owners of Tinhorn Flats Saloon & Grill from reopening with unsafe conditions due to a court-approved shutoff of electricity. A preliminary injunction granted Friday prevents the restaurant from operating without a County Health Permit and City Conditional Use Permit, said Burbank police Lt. Derek Green.  

The demonstrations have continued for several days, and crowds of dozens of demonstrators have strained police resources, especially during busy weekend nights, Green said.  

“We will be out there to maintain peace and order,'' he said. The groups have been peaceful “for the most part,'' he said. But people who live around the small business district have been “impacted by the commotion.''  

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mitchell L. Beckloff Friday told attorney Mark J. Geragos, on behalf of the Tinhorn Flats Saloon & Grill, that he was welcome to file a motion to modify the injunction, which is tailored along the same lines as the temporary restraining order the judge imposed against the Western-themed watering hole on March 8.  

The judge did not levy any sanctions against the restaurant owner, who has defied health orders and continued to offer outdoor dining at a time it was banned in Los Angeles County as a way of limiting the spread of the coronavirus.  

Geragos said he will move to have the preliminary injunction dissolved and he also complimented his opposing counsel, Deputy City Attorney Michael M. Lee.  

“I wish our clients got along as well as Mr. Lee and I do,'' Geragos said.  

The city maintains the restaurant is an ongoing public nuisance.  

Lucas Lepejian, the 20-year-old son of the restaurant's owner, was taken into custody about 9:40 a.m. Tuesday after Burbank police said he was seen removing sandbags placed in front of the building to keep anyone from entering. He was cited and released a few hours later; it was his third arrest in six days.  

Burbank Assistant City Attorney Anita Clarke told the Los Angeles Times that no determination has been made about what, if any, charges will be brought, but a criminal misdemeanor is a possibility.  

Tinhorn Flats owner Baret Lepejian, who lives in Thailand while his children operate the restaurant, told the Los Angeles Times that he supports his son's actions and vowed not to pay the roughly $50,000 in fines that have been levied against the business.  

“Show me one shred of evidence how I am endangering the public,'' he told the Times. “This has never been about safety or the public. It's never been about that. This whole thing is about fear and control.''

PHOTO CREDIT: Mystie Salbert

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