A judge ruled Tuesday that the city of Burbank can padlock the doors at a Burbank bar and restaurant that has continued operating despite the issuance of a temporary restraining order allowing the city to enforce its closure order.
But in the latest round of back-and-forth between the city and bar, the owners of Tinhorn Flat removed the doors..
"We found out a judge signed off on padlocking our doors, so we took maters into our own hands," said co-owner Lucas Lepejian. "If you don't have doors, there's nothing to padlocks. We will continue to operate."
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mitchell L. Beckloff initially handed down the TRO March 8 against Barfly Inc., the operating company of the Tinhorn Flats Saloon & Grill on Magnolia Boulevard, but he did not immediately authorize disconnecting the power or the padlocking of the doors.
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However, he changed his mind over time after the city presented evidence that Tinhorn Flats continued to stay in business despite lacking the necessary permits to do so.
On Friday, the judge said the city could disconnect the electricity to the restaurant with 24 hours' notice, but the eatery stayed operating Saturday and Sunday using generators, according to the city's court papers. So, Burbank lawyers returned to court on Tuesday and obtained permission to lock the doors until the business obtains all the legally required permits.
"Repeating the mantra, `We will not comply,' Barfly apparently has no intention of ever complying with this court's orders," the city's attorneys state in their court papers. "Barfly and its agents, employees and representatives have continued to blatantly disobey the court's TRO by remaining open, encouraging crowds of customers to come and now operating on generators and cooking and serving food made on a barbecue."
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health previously revoked the eatery's health permit, and the Burbank City Council last month revoked its conditional-use permit.
The judge has scheduled a March 26 hearing on whether the TRO should be extended with a preliminary injunction and whether Barfly should have to pay $1,500 in sanctions.
The city maintains the restaurant is an ongoing public nuisance.
"Defendants' continued operations without a public health permit and CUP, especially in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, demonstrate defendants' flagrant flouting of the code, regulations, rules, and standards required for health and safety practices in businesses such as restaurants," the suit states. "Allowing this to go unchecked could embolden other restaurants and facilities to flout the same permit requirements, which would further undermine public health and safety."
The county and city actions took place after numerous complaints were received about the Tinhorn's continued offering of outdoor dining on its patio in violation of the applicable health officer orders at a time when such activity was banned in Los Angeles County, according to the suit. The ban was relaxed in late January.
"The vast majority of restaurants did their part and acted as good citizens by complying with these orders, despite the tremendous difficulty and hardship they have suffered as a result," according to the city's court papers. "Not everyone has borne the sacrifice willingly."