LA County sues 2 restaurants for defying outdoor dining ban

While outdoor dining is set to resume Friday, Los Angeles County is suing two restaurants that they say constituted a public nuisance by ignoring coronavirus policies that were implemented in late November to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

The Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit filed Wednesday takes aim at the Cronies Sports Grill on Kanan Road in Agoura Hills and the Tinhorn Flats Saloon & Grill on Magnolia Boulevard in Burbank. The suit asks for an abatement order directing both restaurants to bring their businesses into compliance with the health orders and to allow inspectors to enter to ensure compliance.

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The suit also seeks civil penalty assessments against the businesses for each day they allegedly did not abide by the health directives.

Asked why the suit was filed two days before the outdoor dining ban was being lifted, the Office of Countywide Communications issued a statement in explanation:

"The complaint asks the court to order the defendants ... to comply with the health officer orders to safeguard the health of our county's residents during this devastating public health emergency. We do not take this action lightly." However, as the complaint notes, 'defendants actions constitute a public nuisance and must be stopped'"

Both businesses were given repeated notices, written directives, citations and appeals to "do the right thing" and comply voluntarily with the health officer mandates, the statement explained.

Thousands of other businesses have stepped up to do their part to protect the public's health during an unprecedented emergency, according to the county statement.

"We are grateful that they are doing the right thing to help our county through this unprecedented and dangerous time," the statement said.

No one answered the phone at the Tinhorn Flats restaurant and a woman who answered the phone at Cronies said no managers were available to comment.

On Dec. 2, public health inspectors observed 18 to 22 customers eating and drinking on Cronies' outdoor patio and also saw that a closure notice that had been posted on the front door the day before was no longer visible from the outside because a banner camouflaged it, the suit states.

On Dec. 12, Cronies' public health permit was revoked and written notice was given to case all restaurant operations, according to the suit. The restaurant has appealed, the suit states.

On Dec. 15, a public health inspector saw more than 25 customers dining in the outdoor patio of the TinHorn Flats restaurant, the suit states.

A revocation hearing was held by the county Department of Public Health for the eatery's public health permit on Jan. 20, according to the suit, which did not provide the outcome.

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