Restaurant defies judge’s closure order by removing doors, declaring autonomous zone: ‘Padlock this!’


A restaurant owner in Burbank, Calif., who has been ignoring orders to remain closed during the COVID pandemic upped his game this week by removing the front doors to his establishment after authorities padlocked them shut.

According to a local report, electricity to the Tinhorn Flats restaurant was cut on the order of a court last week after the eatery refused to shut down, but the City of Burbank returned to court earlier this week seeking permission to physically close the establishment.

“The Court authorizes the City to padlock the doors and/or change the locks to Tinhorn Flats Saloon/Bar & Grill…and/or otherwise prevent Defendant Barfly, Inc., and its agents, employees, representatives, and all persons acting under, in concert with or for it, from entering or accessing” the restaurant, Judge Mitchell L. Beckloff wrote.

“Tinhorn Flats continues to openly defy not just the City and County but now the court, by remaining open and running a generator despite the Court ordering their electricity turned off. The City will now seek Court authorization to padlock the doors until Tinhorn Flats obtains all legally required permits to operate,” Mayor Bob Frutos told via email.

After city officials padlocked the restaurant, the owners posted a photo to Instagram showing that the regular front doors had been removed, leaving only the preexisting Old West-style saloon swinging doors.

“DOORS REMOVED. Thanks to a brilliant idea in the comment section in the post before. Padlock this,” the post said.

In a separate post featuring a photo of Beckloff, the restaurant owner wrote: 

Let me be VERY clear “Judge”- I will NEVER pay fines for illegal mandates and closures. My business is and always was essential. I am now declaring Tinhorn Flats an Autonomous Zone. With the money that my supporters are providing, I will hire 24 hour guards and more lawyers. WE ARE OPEN FOR BUSINESS AND WE WILL NOT COMPLY.

The restaurant’s cause has also been taken up by actor Nick Searcy, who has regularly railed against enduring COVID-19 stay-at-home and lockdown orders.

“I’ve eaten at @TinhornFlats almost 3 times a week when I was in town for the last 2 months. The rest of the time I was flying about the country making films & personal appearances.  No covid, no food poisoning.  How’s your Mommy’s couch been, loser?  Still wiping boogers on it?” Searcy wrote on Twitter in response to a critic.

Searcy took a video of himself in early December taking an “illegal walk” in a Los Angeles neighborhood and removing his facial covering after Mayor Eric Garcetti had doubled down on a previous stay-at-home order. 

“People are peering out their windows at me. And they’re going, ‘There’s a guy out there walking on the street and he doesn’t have a mask on,’” Searcy said, mockingly lowering his voice to a whisper: “‘We’re all going to die.’”

“But you know what? I don’t care,” Searcy, who appeared in notable films like “The Fugitive,” “The Shape of Water,” and “Cast Away,” continued. “Because I’m a rebel. I’m a rebel and I’m a doer. Not a thinker. I’m a doer. I like to go out and do things. And [California Gov.] Gavin Newsom and [Los Angeles Mayor Eric] Garcetti and all these other stupid Democrats are not gonna stop me.”


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Jon Dougherty


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