Elizabeth Johnson and Will Aghajanian, co-chefs and owners of the popular Los Angeles restaurant Horses, have been in a legal battle with one another since November 2022, according to court documents obtained by The Hollywood Reporter.
According to the documents, Johnson, who is married to Aghajanian, filed for a Domestic Violence Temporary Restraining Order against her husband on November 1, citing emotional, physical, and sexual abuse that took place over the course of their then-10-year relationship. She also accused him of abusing up to 14 animals in the filings.
The DVTRO was granted by a Los Angeles Superior Court judge, and earlier this month, was extended through June 5, according to THR.
On January 13, Aghajanian filed for a DVTRO against Johnson, saying she falsely accused him of things she did, and accusing her of trying to force him out of their joint businesses. (The couple own and operate several restaurants together — including Froggy's in New York, which Eater New York reported may not open as planned.)
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In her court filing, Johnson described an incident where her husband "physically dragged me by the legs across the floor while I was screaming and trying to resist.” She said that on several occasions, she tried to hide from him by locking herself in a room, but that he would force himself through the locked door.
According to the filing, she accused Aghajanian of killing the family's cats. “I caught Will violently shaking the cat late at night, and he died the next day,” she wrote in the November court filing. “Will put the dead cat in the trash and insisted on keeping the corpse in the house.”
In his filing, Aghajanian denies the claims that he abused her and the animals. He also wrote that while they were together, "Liz told me that she grew up in a household where her father would catch live squirrels in a cage and drown them in a trash can full of water." He said "she bragged about this repeatedly."
Both parties claimed that they felt unsafe around the other and that they feared their spouse would die by suicide, citing their own examples of times they believed their parter wanted to harm themselves.
The court filings obtained by THR and reviewed by The Messenger include testimonials from witnesses as well as screen shots of text conversations between the couple.
The Los Angeles Times published initial details about the case on Wednesday after rumors of the restaurants closure started to circulate on Twitter. It began when Twitter user @weareyourfek tweeted a note about a "crazy" restaurant story they heard. The account didn't mention the restaurant in question by name, but other users were quick to jump on and speculate that it was Horses, a celebrity-favorite hangout in West Hollywood.
After the LA Times story published, a statement was posted to the Horses Instagram account: "Will Aghajanian has been on a leave of absence from Horses as of November 2022, and since then he has not been involved in the day-to-day operations of the restaurant."
"Under the guidance of Chef Liz," the statement continues, "our incredible front and back of house teams are working to continuously make Horses what she had always intended it to be - a place of joy and celebration."
As of May 19 at 3 p.m. EST, reservations for Horses on Resy appeared completely booked or unavailable through June 17. The Messenger's attempts to reach Horses, Johnson and Aghajanian were unsuccessful.
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