Burbank Tinhorn Flats restaurant and bar is back in the news today, in part because of a town meeting scheduled for 5pm tonight that could have major implications for the future of the business in general. . Owner Baret Lepejian and his family have been vocally against rolling county-led public health lockdowns during the coronavirus pandemic, operating dining (mostly outdoors, although social media showed a bar to l ‘interior seats as well sometimes) on-site in direct opposition to county mandates. Along the way, they’ve racked up countless fines and warnings, and tonight it could all come to a head.
According to a leaflet sent by the city of Burbank, which falls under the jurisdiction of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, plans to revoke the restaurant’s conditional use license, a largely final step to ensure that the business no longer works. County officials have also considered laying formal criminal charges against Lepejian and his family for “violating CUP approval conditions.” This is primarily a formal way of saying that the restaurant has remained open for on-site dining after being told to close by public health officials, who have only cut down on take-out and delivery restaurants. late 2020, as COVID-19 cases exploded in the region. Restaurants were again allowed to resume limited-capacity outdoor dining on-site, with appropriate protocols in place, late last month.
This time, however, they are not alone, as it appears a certain Mark Geragos is now representing the restaurant in their struggle with city and county officials. Geragos is an attorney and owner of Downtown LA Engine Co. No. 28, which filed a complaint with county officials last year over the sensitive issue of causal data linking alfresco dining at restaurants to an increase in coronavirus cases. Geragos and others have argued that a formal case must be made linking contact tracing data to restaurants so that they are legally closed by public health warrant; County officials have argued (and the courts have confirmed) that they are not required to show this data to act in the interest of public health and safety in an emergency.
Ahead of tonight’s showdown, Lepejian has been a vocal anti-lockdown advocate on social media, calling the loss of alfresco dining a “tyrannical mandate” and describing the wearing of masks as nothing more than a tool of “Control and fear”. among others.
The City of Burbank meeting tonight to determine the fate of the conditional use permit for Tinhorn Flats, where Lepejian, Geragos and many supporters are expected to be in attendance, can be viewed online from 5 p.m.