'Nothing to lose:' Co-owner of popular Burbank sports bar defying ban on outdoor dining

BURBANK, Calif. (KABC) -- A popular sports bar in Burbank is defying Gov. Newsom's order to close outdoor dining. A co-owner of the business says he feels he's run out of options with no relief money coming in and bills still due.

Restaurants have been among those heavily impacted by various local and state health orders put in place to limit the spread of COVID-19. But the co-owner of Tinhorn Flats Saloon & Grill has continued to serve its patrons outdoors.

"We are absolutely fed up with the laws and regulations against restaurants, and especially small businesses shutting down. We are calling this a tyranny," said the establishment's co-owner, Lucas Lepejian.

The Burbank Police Department tells Eyewitness News it will defer enforcement to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and will only intervene if the county asks them to.

Lepejian, still faced with possibly losing his health permit or liquor license, says his restaurant is on its last breaths anyway because of the restrictions.

"We're tanking right now, we really are. We got nothing to lose, we're just putting up a last fight," he said.

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Tinhorn Flats poses a stark contrast to other restaurants that are honoring the COVID closures.

At the MexCocina Cafe on Burbank Boulevard, the usually packed outdoor tables now stand barren but the cafe has been trying to stay afloat through take-out orders.

"It's kinda hard to have to be in this position because it doesn't make sense... at the same time though we have to understand that this is temporary," said Vincente Bramblia.

More than 30,000 restaurants scattered across Los Angeles County are facing the same challenges. Many grasp of the seriousness of the pandemic, woven with frustration and the feeling that restaurants are being unfairly singled out.

"You can't pay 100% of your bills with 20% income. You just can't," said Twohey's co-owner Tanya Christos.

Restaurant patrons are trying to support their favorite spots and hoping they survive the outdoor dining shutdown, but say the restrictions may be the best way to get through the pandemic.

"Oh, it's sad but we have to face the truth. I mean, the situation is really bad," said customer Roger Rodriguez.
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