Valley Icon Henry's Tacos to Close After 50 Years


The Los Angeles Institution known as Henry's Taco's will be closing at the end of December 2012.  For the last 51 years the North Hollywood walk-up restaurant has stood at the corner of Moorpark and Tujunga.  Ravenous devotees have devoured burritos and taco burgers through earthquakes, floods and wayward drivers.

This LA temple of tacos has a western theme and giant red and green letters on yellow squares lighting the front of the building.  A cactus-studded landscape and logo stretch across one side of the tiny structure.  Diners munch over wooden picnic tables on the patio, drink soda with real shaved ice, stargaze and wait for their Midnight Snack to-go orders.  Henry's unique architecture has appeared in TV and films, been immortalized in songs and added colorful atmosphere to novels. 

Janis Hood broke the sad news on the Henry's Tacos Facebook Group last night:

"I am very sorry to have to announce to everyone that it looks like Henry's will be closing for good on December 31. As some of you know, Henry's is just too much for me as a single, childless woman approaching 60 with no family within 1700 miles. I have had several prospective buyers committed to continuing the tradition, but all have been turned down by the landlord. The current prospective buyers have agreed to all the landlord's terms, but he has ceased communicating with them. Therefore, I have given my notice and it has been accepted by the landlord.
I believe this all goes back to my unwittingly angering the landlord by nominating Henry's for Historic Cultural Monument status. As Councilmember Krekorian put a stop to that, the landlord may want to bulldoze Henry's and build something else. I am hoping to get some media coverage in the next few days. Needless to say I am heartsick that after 51 years, Henry's may end for no good reason. Thanks to you all for your support."


Heartbroken fans have been leaving condolence posts:

John: And another piece of our youth bites the dust. Hang Ten, Helms Bakery, Farrell's, Hostess, and now, this. What's next, Val Surf?

Marti: Deja Vu. Voicing concerns to the landlord or Krekorian fell on deaf ears last year beginning around this time. It's all about ego, power trips, and greed. No concern for history or our community at all. An outsider who knows nothing about Henry's Tacos or our Studio City/NoHo community could care less. That's the reality.

Last year the Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission voted 5-0 to designate Henry's as a Historic-Cultural Monument, but it never made it to the full City Council for a final vote.  Although anyone can nominate any building for historical status, it was owner Janis Hood who did the research, hired experts and nominated the building.  Unfortunately, the new landowner appeared clueless as the value of the building or the legion of decipels usually standing 4-deep in line over at Henry's Tacos.  He opposed the designation, and Councilman Paul Kerkorian, in whose district the building sits, never submitted the proposal for a full City Council vote.

Financial concerns may have also added to the decision to close.  According to Henry's owner/operator Janis Hood, the complicated lease renewal last year included a steep increase in rent.  This year, with no to few options left, it all proved to be too much.

Some Henry's aficionados plan on stocking up their freezer with tacos, chili and bean & cheese burritos.  Others hope to see Henry's Taco sauce bottled for the internet, or a Henry's food truck.  Like a great combination burrito with extra cheese, perhaps we can hope for one of the potential buyers to create a food truck version of Henry's and bring this special brand of food to a corner near you.

Visit the Henry's Tacos group page at: https://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/19286894022

1 comment:

Otis Criblecoblis said...

In the hope that perhaps I may be able to ease your pain a bit, I have glad-ish tidings regarding Farrell's. The chain lives! See http://www.farrellsusa.com/ .

Of course, it remains to be seen how faithful the new stores are to the original concept, but at least they've gotten the graphics right!

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