It’s just my opinion:
On Monday, February 22, at 6 pm, the Burbank City Council will have a public hearing to decide the fate of Tinhorn Flats continuing to do business in Burbank.
This has been a months-long process trying to get the restaurant to conform to Los Angeles County Health Department Orders for restaurants to close indoor and outdoor seating because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
While it seems like a black and white issue, there is compassion for not only Tinhorn Flats, but for every restaurant caught in this vicious public health crisis.
On one side, restaurants have bills to pay like every other business, landlord, and even everyday people during these trying times. They also feel a responsibility to their loyal servers, cooks, and managers who they employ and have families of their own. While restaurants do turn a nice profit at times, to be basically shut down or able to do about 25 to 50% of their usual business in a year will take its price.
I get it.
On the other side of the coin, however, is a unique situation that none of us have gone through in our lifetimes. COVID-19 is DEADLY to certain people, others will be affected the rest of their lives by the virus. This is one of the gravest issues to hit our country ever and drastic methods need to be employed to deal with it.
One of those measures was the closures of restaurants where people gather.
Tinhorn Flats is in the same exact boat as every other restaurant except for the fact that all other restaurants obeyed the order while Tinhorn Flats openly defied it. They said they had a right to survive.
While this has gripped the country, there have been many outlets to assist businesses. The federal government launched two rounds of grants called PPP Grants, where businesses could apply for the grant, use the money to pay rent and salaries, and not pay it back. The City of Burbank also offered grants to businesses, with businesses only having to show the money went to costs related to the pandemic. In fact, myBurbank applied and received one of those much-needed grants which kept our writers employed after our advertising revenues dropped.
So yes, there was help out there. Was anyone going to get rich – NO. But those grants helped businesses so they would not go under. Hopefully, many Burbank businesses survived. We know of many people who got take-out from local restaurants much more than usual to try and help them.
The bottom line of the restaurant closures was to protect people. Tinhorn Flats did not seem to care. It will never be known how many people may have been infected there and then continued on their treks into stores, etc., and possibly infecting others, or even worse, their families. It seemed many people came from outside of Burbank to support the restaurant and their social media posts were rampant bragging about being there.
County Health has fined Tinhorn Flats over and over again, their Liquor License has been suspended, County Health first suspended their Health Permit and had a full hearing to revoke their Health Permit, but they stayed open in defiance. Even now, County Health has filed a civil suit to get Tinhorn Flats to comply with the law.
Burbank has had a different route. To start with, they use Los Angeles County Health as their Health Department and follow whatever their advisement is although Burbank is an incorporated city. Because of the City’s Charter, they are unable, as Los Angeles City is, to cut the power to the business. Their only course of action is to have a public hearing to suspend or revoke the business’s conditional use permit that they agreed to when opening their business in that location.
So it has finally come down to a hearing by Burbank to once and for all take action and Burbank needs to revoke that permit. To not do so and just suspend it will slap every Burbank restaurant in the face that obeyed the County order as tough as it was. A strong message needs to be sent.
Here is the sad part and why this may not bring closure. If Burbank does revoke their permit, they still CAN’T force the restaurant to close unless they then file a civil suit demanding the closure. So it’s back to the courts and who knows how long that might take.
Bottom line is that we, as a society, have laws in place. We may not always agree with the laws but accept them. We can’t pick which ones to obey and not, we have to obey them all. If people do not, police arrest them, they have their day in court, and punishment is established depending on the severity of the crime.
In this case, Tinhorn Flats should be found guilty and should be closed after putting people’s lives at risk.