The Tinhorn Flats Saloon & Grill has become ground central in the latest challenge to California officials heavy-handed response to COVID-19, as business owners in many parts of America find themselves in the unenviable position of having to fight city hall just to open their doors and make a living.
Located in Burbank, the establishment was cordoned off by city officials on Saturday, with a chain-link fence being placed around the business after the owners repeatedly defied pandemic-related restrictions in place.
The fence is intended to prevent the owners from reopening with unsafe conditions due to a court-approved shutoff of electricity and a preliminary injunction granted to prevent the restaurant from operating without a County Health Permit and City Conditional Use Permit, NBC Los Angeles reported, citing Burbank police Lt. Derek Green.
Lucas Lepejian, 20, operates the business for his father, who lives in Thailand. He has been arrested three times this month, twice for violating a court order and on Tuesday for removing sandbags placed in front of his restaurant — which the local CBS affiliate characterized as “altering efforts the city has implemented to prevent entry into the establishment, due to the unsafe conditions and to be compliant with the city’s safety codes.”
— Izzy Presley (@realizzypresley) April 10, 2021
Supporters and opponents have been squaring off outside the business in what looks to be a lively scene representing how polarizing post-Obama America is — fittingly, a liberal woman can be seen in the video below holding a sign calling for Tinhorn Flats to be replaced by a Planned Parenthood abortion facility.
The video is taken by an opponent, but captures the scene well — toward the end, her liberalism gets the better of her as she loses focus and begins debating the virtues of vaccines.
I just found out that not all dinosaurs are extinct, but they are dying off. pic.twitter.com/5V0jQLWe8U
— haunted dog (@zandywithaz) April 6, 2021
According to reports, when authorities shut off the utilities, Lepejian responded by bringing in generators to remain open. When the doors were padlocked, he cut off the locks. When officials responded by boarding up the doors, he sawed off the boards.
— Martin Graf (@MG44Graf) April 10, 2021
The business was hit with a “red tag” notice deeming the building to be unsafe and off limits. And when the fence went up, the son began doing business on the sidewalk out front.
This morning, Burbank police put up a fence around @TinhornFlats
Now, there's a grill out in front. pic.twitter.com/P4kchEFTR1
— Bretigne Shaffer (@Bretigne) April 10, 2021
The father, Baret Lepejian, told the Los Angeles Times 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.”
This being the same message the restaurant shared on its Instagram page.
The post shares several points “for perspective”:
1. We only opened outdoors to customers during the lockdown. We never served inside.
2. Employees followed all mask rules.
3. Even after our CUP was “taken away” we still followed every rule on the CUP and Health Permit.
“THIS TYRANNY HAS NEVER BEEN ABOUT PUBLIC SAFETY…IT IS ONLY ABOUT FEAR AND CONTROL. WE WILL NOT COMPLY,” the caption concluded.
View this post on Instagram
Tinhorn Flats attorney Mark Geragos shared online that a Los Angeles Superior Court judge said they could file a motion to modify the injunction and did not levy sanctions against the owner.
That tweet was shared early in the day Saturday. Geragos posted the following tweet early Sunday, which appears to show police on their way to fence off the saloon:
— Mark Geragos 🇦🇲 (@markgeragos) April 11, 2021
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