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Tinhorn Flats Defies Burbank's Order To Close — And Reopens At High Noon

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A cattle skull hangs on wood. (<A HREF="https://unsplash.com/photos/Cc3QrL4S01Q">Artem Maltsev/Unsplash</A>)
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Tinhorn Flats is bucking orders from Burbank officials. The owners of the Old West-themed saloon had previously railed against face mask mandates (although they eventually agreed to enforce them) and vowed to defy the ban on in-person dining at restaurants.

On Monday night, the Burbank City Council voted unanimously to revoke the restaurant's permit. Councilmembers said they had received complaints that Tinhorn Flats was allowing people to eat there during the recent ban on in-person dining at restaurants.

Despite the vote, or maybe because of it, Tinhorn Flats reopened today — at high noon.

"It was rigged," said Lucas Lepejian, who runs and owns Tinhorn Flats with his father, Baret. "They didn't hear us out whatsoever. They had their minds set completely before the meeting. This is all about fear and control, and not supporting of small businesses. They're just trying to make a complete example out of us."

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Deputy City Planner Scott Plambaeck showed photos of diners being served indoors at Tinhorn Flats in mid-December — while in-person dining was banned at L.A. County restaurants due to the skyrocketing number of COVID-19 cases. Lepejian said the pictures proved nothing.

Burbank Mayor Bob Frutos said he didn't agree with requiring restaurants to close but since Tinhorn Flats never responded to the city's notice of violation, his hands were tied.

"I have been to Tinhorn Flats a couple times before COVID-19 hit... I actually like their chicken wings... I was hoping all along that the owner would try to reach out to somebody on the council," Frutos said.

Burbank city attorney Amy Albano said Tinhorn Flats could face a lawsuit and a court order to shut down down if the Lepejians fail to comply with yesterday's decision. If social media is anything to go by, they don't seem inclined to.

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Earlier today on Instagram, Tinhorn Flats posted a message thanking those who supported them at last night's City Council meeting and declaring, "This was nothing short of a vicious mob with pitchforks coming for that who stands against their campaign of fear. I WILL NOT COMPLY AND I WILL NOT CLOSE MY BUSINESS TO THESE PATHETIC, UNAMERICAN SOCIALIST COWARDS. If need be, I will go down with my ship."

Tinhorn Flats isn't the only restaurant that has defied temporary restrictions and closures.

In Long Beach, Restauration owner Dana Tanner kept her establishment open after the city pulled her permit and shut off her gas because she ignored the ban on outdoor dining during the height of the coronavirus outbreak. Long Beach is currently suing Tanner. In Redondo Beach, Eat at Joe's refused to close its patio and even hung a banner reading "The French Laundry Patio Dining," a dig at California Governor Gavin Newsom's dinner party at the wine country restaurant.

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