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L.A. Restaurant Horses / Cats Controversy

Updated May 18, 2023 at 03:14PM EDT by Zach.

Added May 18, 2023 at 12:18PM EDT by Adam.

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L.A. Restaurant Horses / Cats Controversy refers to allegations against Will Aghajanian (the chef co-owner of Los Angeles-based restaurant Horses) that he murdered several cats that he housed with his wife (the other chef co-owner of Horses) Elizabeth Johnson. In addition to the accusations, which were unearthed from the pair's divorce filings by the Los Angeles Times, more salacious rumors spreading online include that Johnson caught Aghajanian masturbating while strangling a cat. However, Aghajanian has denied the claims and accused Johnson of abusing their cats in his own filings.


On May 15th, 2023, Twitter user @weareyourfek[5] tweeted that they had heard the "absolute most crazy batshit restaurant world story I’ve quite literally EVER heard in my LIFE" and that the story would break in the following days (shown below).

foster kamer. @weareyourfek : FOSTERTALK FLASH EDITION: I just heard the absolute most crazy batshit restaurant world story I've quite literally EVER heard in my LIFE, and apparently it's going to break in the next few days to weeks. Makes the Spotted Pig stuff look like child's play. Dear GOD. 1:02 PM . May 15, 2023

On May 17th, 2023, the Los Angeles Times[1] reported that Will Aghajanian (the chef co-owner of then-buzzy LA restaurant Horses) was accused by his wife Elizabeth Johnson (the other chef co-owner of Horses) of abusing her and murdering the pair's cats. Johnson filed for a restraining order against Aghajanian in November 2022 as part of her divorce filing.

The filing includes allegations that she caught Aghajanian "violently shaking the cat late at night, and he died the next day. Will put the dead cat in the trash and insisted on keeping the corpse in the house." Johnson's mother alleges that the pair had several cats die when they lived in New York City. Johnson also claimed Aghajanian physically abused her, including dragging her by the feet while she screamed.

Aghajanian denied the claims, stating that he loves all animals, and accused Johnson of abusing their pets, not him. He also alleged that Johnson was the one who abused him, telling the court she "repeatedly threatened to kill him and burned him at least twice with a metal spatula and a spoon she had placed in a fryer." A character witness for Aghajanian, Samuel Burchett, corroborates that he witnessed Johnson abuse Aghajanian.

Los Angeles Los Angeles Times Times @latimes NEW: A chef of popular Los Angeles restaurant Horses accused her husband and business partner of killing the family's cats in a divorce filing in which she also asked for a domestic violence restraining order. Noted L.A. chef accused by wife of killing family cats, assault. He denies alle... Horses chef Will Aghajanian strongly denies wife's claims in his court filings, calling them 'false allegations. 4:13 PM May 17, 2023 ...


As the story hit social media in mid-May 2023, Twitter user @PS_AF1[3] criticized the Times on May 17th, 2023, for only reporting statements in the court filings but not reporting on "The Real Horses Story." He also posted[2] screenshots of messages from anonymous sources about rumors that were swirling around Horses, Johnson and Aghajanian. One rumor stated that Johnson caught Aghajanian masturbating while strangling a kitten (shown below, left). Another stated that Aghajanian had given Johnson STDs after a "sex tourism" trip to Thailand (shown below, middle). Another claims that Johnson "made up" the story in an effort to gain ownership, and yet another showcases a conversation allegedly with Johnson in which she worries that if she gets famous people will "find out about pancakes or the cats" (shown below, right).

so Liz the chef was with this dude Will that was co-chef at Horses when it opened til top of this year 2 People apparently they had kind of an open door policy about adopting stray cats at home and "mysteriously" like a half dozen of them had died over the span of a year or so BRO apparently Liz was already feeling increasingly freaked out and thinking something was up she comes home a few months ago and Will is beating his meat while strangling a kitten OMFG iMessage No NOO000000 € jdkflflf like how bad is it I got the tea boots From another source djdlflgk omg king Apparently the husband and wife who own it are divorcing because he cheated on her with a bunch of sex workers and gave his wife a ton of diseases And the cat story is more or less part of the story oma like what kind of diseases 12:04 42 I'm hungry Liz Should I get in n out O A Sorry, I can't talk right now. If I get famous Will anyone ever find out about pancskes Or the cats May 6, 2018 at 9:59 PM In service I leave early tonight Last table 7 Sure May 7, 2018 at 12:17 AM LTE iMessage Sorry I can't talk right now *Cash No Love you

As the news and rumors spread, many on Twitter were bewildered by the information, leading to shock and jokes. For example, on May 17th, Twitter user @notbigracks[6] tweeted that they wished they had not known about the Horses story, gaining over 60 likes in one day (shown below, top). Also that day, user @lifein4chapters[4] tweeted an Abbot and Costello parody about the story, gaining 15 likes in one day (shown below, bottom).

chekov @notbigracks ... just found out about the restaurant Horses in LA and why it's closing and now i wish i didn't know about the restaurant Horses or why it is closing 3:43 PM . May 17, 2023 Movie Mindset @lifein4chapters - The restaurant is closing because of horse meat? - No, the restaurant is named Horses, it's closing because of cats. - They're closing Horses because of cat meat? - No, Horses is closing because the chef beat his meat with cats - They served chef meat? - No... ST.LOUS WOLVE 4:17 PM May 17, 2023 MOTEL All 111

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