I don’t venture into the Valley very often; I mean, what’s there to see? But I did go on Friday to pay my respects to Henry’s Tacos, which is set to close on December 31.
Henry’s and its Googie sign has been in business for 51 years at the corner of Moorpark St. and Tujunga Ave in Studio City. It is a local landmark. But when owner Janis Hood applied to the city to make it an official landmark, she says the landlord got angry. Designating it a Historical Cultural Monument would limit what he could do with his land.
Hood claims the landlord raised her rent by 50% and refused to renew her lease last December, instead insisting on going month-to-month. Now she says she’s just tired of the battle, writing on the restaurant’s Facebook page:
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 1,700 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… Needless to say I am heartsick that after 51 years, Henry’s may end for no good reason.
If you’re not a fan of the signage, Henry’s really is nothing to look at. But it represents the California lifestyle of drive-in restaurants and food stands that helped the city grow. Sadly, they have become a thing of the past, their large lots more useful and lucrative as strip malls and mixed-use housing to developers.
But Henry’s is not going down quietly. There is an online petition to save it, and celebrities who grew up going to Henry’s are joining in the fight. So are the commoners — when I was there, there were a couple of dozen people lined up to buy some tacos. Let’s hope they are not the last Henry’s tacos they will ever eat.