California bar and restaurant operators kicked out after defying COVID-19 mandates – Silicon Valley
Just as most California restaurants got the official green light to reopen more widely on Tuesday, operators of a Burbank bar and grill who refused to close when coronavirus closures shut down much of the area were kicked out. .
The family behind Barfly, Inc., which ran the Tinhorn Flats Saloon & Grill on Magnolia Boulevard before waging a legal battle against Burbank and Los Angles County health officials for months, were barred from ownership on Tuesday .
A spokesperson for the Sheriff’s Department said MPs locked out current operators at 6:30 a.m.
Burbank city officials said they handed over the keys to the business to Isabelle Lepejian, Baret Lepejian’s ex-wife and owner of the building. LA County records show the couple officially divorced last August, after more than eight years of litigation but before the showdown began with Burbank and county health officials.
In a statement, Burbank officials said Tuesday’s lockout was “the final step in the eviction process (Isabelle Lepejian) initiated against Tinhorn Flats.”
The Sheriff’s Department confirmed that Isabelle Lepejian filed a deportation application in Pasadena court in April.
The standoff between Burbank and Tinhorn Flats began last December, when the LA County Department of Public Health banned outdoor dining and large gatherings. At the time, the number of coronavirus cases was skyrocketing. The dead number in the tens of thousands.
However, when LA County health inspectors visited Tinhorn Flats on December 13, they found its patio bustling with customers. This sparked a feud lasting several months: Health inspectors returned 28 times, handing over citations each time. At the end of January, the restaurant saw its conditional use and health licenses revoked. In May, an LA County Superior Court judge upheld the city’s restraining order against Barfly.
Baret Lepejian is listed as the chairman of Barfly in state business records. But he’s been out of the country for most of the last year – he told Tinhorn Flats’ Instagram account he was stuck in Thailand due to coronavirus travel restrictions.
His son, Lucas Lepejian, runs from the restaurant. Around this time, the 20-year-old led much of the clash with Burbank. He goaded city officials with increasingly provocative statements.
On a GoFundMe page raising funds so the family could pay famous lawyer Mark Geragos to represent them, he called Burbank city officials “clowns.” He was arrested three times for violating the restraining order, removing sandbags from the restaurant and another time cutting a padlock with a hacksaw as a small crowd cheered him on.
The restaurant fight has become a famous cause among some on the far right, including some local supporters of former President Donald Trump.
It was not clear on Tuesday who would run the bar or if it would reopen.
Isabelle Lepejian could not be reached for comment on Tuesday. A lawyer for her also did not return a request for comment.
A Burbank spokesperson did not respond to questions sent by email. And the city attorney’s office declined to comment. Officials said the eviction would not affect the city’s ongoing lawsuits over the restraining order, license revocations and a $ 50,000 fine on the restaurant.
Neither Baret nor Lucas Lepejian could be reached immediately for comment on Tuesday. The Tinhorn Flats telephone line remains cut.
On their active Instagram page, there was no message acknowledging that they would be kicked out. The latest message was posted on Monday wishing Trump a happy birthday.
Other Southern California restaurants that have refused to close over coronavirus-related health orders have faced similar fates. Dining in Long Beach closed earlier this year after the restaurant owner was charged with criminal charges for his attempts to reopen, even after the city cut public services.