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Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Burbank’s Tinhorn Flats vows to stay open after City Council votes to revoke restaurant permit

A popular restaurant and bar in Burbank remains defiant Tuesday after city officials voted to revoke its permit for violating health orders during the pandemic.

A Facebook post by Tinhorn Flats — owned by Baret Lepejian and located on 2623 West Magnolia Boulevard — thanked supporters who called in during an hourslong Burbank City Council meeting the previous evening, saying the business will not close.

“If need be, I will go down with my ship,” the social media post said.

According to the City Council, the L.A. County Department of Public Health received 52 complaints between Dec. 7 and 10 about the restaurant offering outdoor dining — when doing so was not allowed. Agency officials responded to the business on Dec. 10, confirmed the violation and issued a report.

Over the next two days, the department received 72 more complaints about the restaurant, leading the health department to suspend its permit, the City Council said. But Tinhorn Flats continued to serve food at its patio, prompting a cease and desist order on Jan. 12.

On Jan. 27, the county sued the restaurant for violating emergency health orders and county codes, as well as for acting as a public nuisance, the City Council said.

From Dec. 10 to Feb. 9, the county health department issued the restaurant a total of 38 citations, according to Burbank officials.

The law firm Geragos & Geragos is now representing the business. During Monday evening’s council meeting, attorney Alexandra Kazarian cited the court challenges against the county’s health orders, alleging a lack of scientific evidence that banning outdoor dining prevents the spread of COVID-19.

“It’s our position that the health department has no authority as of right now, especially while the appellate court is considering the constitutionality of these closure orders,” Kazarian said.

“There are no allegations of mishandling of food, of any violations of actual health regulations,” she added.

Council members proceeded to adopt a resolution to revoke Tinhorn Flat’s conditional use permit.

“This ruling means that [Tinhorn] Flats no longer has a permit to conduct business at this location. … If the business owner continues to operate the restaurant/drinking establishment after the revocation of the CUP, the City’s only remedy is to file a civil action for an order to physically close the restaurant,” the city said in a statement Tuesday.

L.A. county allowed outdoor dining in late January after a two-month ban. The ban’s effectiveness in helping curb the pandemic has been contested, including by some government officials. However, some experts say there’s increasing evidence that prohibiting restaurants from offering onsite services helped slow a recent surge in coronavirus cases.

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