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Judge Tells Burbank It Can Shut Down Tinhorn Flats

A low angle shot of the exterior of Tinhorn Flats with its old west saloon doors, tin awning and a sign with cattle on it.
The entrance toTinhorn Flats, an Old West-themed bar in Burbank.
(Elina Shatkin/LAist)
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A judge today granted a temporary restraining order allowing Burbank officials to enforce their closure order for Tinhorn Flats, a Western-themed bar and restaurant that has flouted COVID-19 safety protocols.

In late November, when Los Angeles County temporarily banned outdoor dining at restaurants, Tinhorn Flats allegedly continued serving customers on its patio. The outdoor dining ban was lifted in late January.

In defending Tinhorn Flats, attorney Mark Geragos, who was instrumental in a lawsuit to overturn L.A. County's outdoor dining ban (and owns DTLA restaurant Engine Co. No. 28), argued that the city of Burbank hadn't given the owners sufficient notice of the lawsuit.

L.A. Superior Court Judge Mitchell L. Beckloff didn't buy that argument.

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Local officials have been in a slow-motion standoff with the restaurants' owners, the Lepejian family, for months.

In late January, the L.A. County Department of Public Health revoked the saloon's health permit. A month later, the Burbank City Council revoked its conditional-use permit. Last week, the city of Burbank sued Tinhorn Flats. Each time, Tinhorn Flats remained open.

The city said the restaurant, located on Magnolia Boulevard, was an ongoing public nuisance and wanted permission to padlock Tinhorn Flats' doors and shut off its electricity.

Will this latest legal salvo make the owners rethink their strategy?

Tinhorn Flats hasn't commented on today's ruling but on Instagram, the owners remain defiant. Last week, they launched a crowdfunding campaign to help with their legal fees. It has, so far, raised more than $5,000 of its $30,000 goal.

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"Defendants' continued operations without a public health permit and CUP, especially in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, demonstrates defendants' flagrant flouting of the code, regulations, rules and standards required for health and safety practices in businesses such as restaurants," the lawsuit states.

You can read the full lawsuit here.

The judge has scheduled a hearing for March 26 on whether the temporary restraining order should be extended with a preliminary injunction.

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