BURBANK, Calif. - On Thursday afternoon, the back patio of a popular old-time, saloon-style bar and restaurant called Tinhorn Flats in Burbank was filled with people eating burgers, drinking beer, laughing and having a good time in protest of tightened COVID-19 restrictions.
On top of defying a local and state order that bans all in-person dining, only a few diners were seen wearing masks.
Owner Lucas Lepejian, who says his family has owned the place for almost 20 years, is openly defying the ban on outdoor dining.
The saloon first opened in 1939.
“I've got nothing left to lose,” he said when FOX 11’s Phil Shuman asked him about fines or losing his license. "I'm opposing tyranny...I'm doing COVID-19 safety protocols," he said.
He also said he received a brief afternoon visit from the health department, which resulted in a $500 fine.
This may have been the result of FOX 11’s live shot at noon, or perhaps the social media postings announcing the reopening.
Lepejian said the fine is okay with him, although it could escalate if he doesn't shut down.
“You gotta live with that,” he said.
He was told the inspector is scheduled to return in 3 days. In the meantime, he says he'll stay open.
According to Lepejian, a lot is at stake, to say the least, including a liquor license which costs $100,000, he said.
He certainly doesn't want to put that at-risk but for now, plans to continue operations.
A court ruling recently went in favor of the restaurant owners suing Los Angeles County over the dining ban; a lawsuit that will reportedly target the State of California next.