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Prominent Burbank Restaurant Reopens Today in Protest of ‘Tyrannical Mandates’

Plus, how to continue to give back this season, and a matcha party complete with some of LA’s best pastries

A Western-themed bar from the front, at an angle, showing saloon doors and blue skies beyond.
Tinhorn Flats
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Farley Elliott is the Senior Editor at Eater LA and the author of Los Angeles Street Food: A History From Tamaleros to Taco Trucks. He covers restaurants in every form, from breaking news to the culture, people, and history that surrounds LA's dining landscape.

Burbank restaurant Tinhorn Flats is reopening today at noon, calling its return of outdoor on-site dining a “peaceful protest” on social media. Fans have been pledging to show up to support them for days, calling for an end to “tyrannical mandates and closures” as a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Reached by phone earlier this week, owner Baret Lepejian says that he runs the nearly two-decade-old Burbank location with just himself and two children, and that he plans to continue serving customers outside daily from noon to 9 p.m. for the foreseeable future. “I’m going to lose my business anyway,” Lepejian said, “So fuck it.” When asked about possible repercussions, including the loss of his operating license, Lepejian said that he would continue to cook and serve until someone physically removed him from the property. He has spoken with Burbank Police, he added, saying that they do not plan to get involved with his removal.

Lepejian made waves earlier this fall for posting a startling anti-mask rant on Facebook, while warning of “brutal” consequences if protests around Los Angeles against President Trump continued. Lepejian said this week that while has his own personal thoughts about the death rate of COVID-19 (though the data is clear), he would be willing to close his business if he were receiving any kind of financial government assistance to do so. But with no money coming in and bills still due, he believes — as do other restaurant owners around greater Los Angeles — that he has run out of other options. Southern California, meanwhile, is experiencing record deaths as a result of the coronavirus, with even worse weeks likely still ahead.

In other news:

  • Lucky’s has opened its new location in Malibu. The Montecito-based steak spot had hoped to come to life further south once on-site dining was available, but for now they’re selling chops and wine and sandwiches and more for takeout only.
  • Dry River Brewing has closed its taproom on Anderson Street, though the company still plans to continue producing beer and selling around town.
  • Longtime Smorgasburg vendor Paratta is doing a fundraiser for No Us Without You this weekend. $2 from every roll is going to the Eastside non-profit to help buy meals for back of house workers, and Paratta owners themselves will be doubling the donation to boot.
  • In related news, Superfine is doing a weekly food drop at the Skid Row Housing Trust, using donated funds from the shop to feed those in need.
  • The guys at E Stretto are once again doing free sandwiches for anyone laid off in the restaurant industry, this time out of the East Hollywood location they share with Flaco.
  • Hatchet Hall is back in Culver City, doing a “semi-set” takeaway dinner menu that runs $52 per person, and offers some choice as to dishes and sides.
  • Breakfast hit Calabama is popping up at Wexler’s Deli at Grand Central Market today, as part of that group’s ongoing showcase of underground talent, lovingly dubbed the Hustle and Motivate Series.
  • Two West LA street food stands specializing in Brazilian food have gotten some love from LA Magazine recently. Check them both out at 2949 Sawtelle Blvd.
  • The team from Tsubaki and Ototo in Echo Park is hosting a virtual matcha tea and Japanese sweets class on Sunday at 3 p.m. Zach Manhan of Kettl Tea and pastry chef Gemma Matsuyama of Ototo will be leading the event, and anyone hoping to join in can purchase tickets now.