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Henry's to Close Saturday! Talks Break Down, New Location Sought

The last day for Henry's Tacos is Saturday. Councilman Krekorian's office was involved in negotiations.

Henry's Tacos, after a year of landlord disputes and attempts to sell the family-owned business, will shutter after 9 p.m. Saturday, according to Janis Hood, whose family started the business in 1961.

"It will be a sad day, but this is it," Hood said in an exclusive interview with Studio City Patch near the close of business on Friday evening. "It just didn't work out for us to stay at this location. We will stay open on Saturday until 9 o'clock, or until our food runs out."

A deal was being ironed out this week between the property owner, Mehran Ebrahimpour of Beverly Hills, and Matt Pyken of Studio City, who wanted to buy the business from Hood. They got a 20-year lease agreement from the landlord, but it forced the potential buyers to offer $50,000 less to Hood for the sale of the business, because of the higher rent.

"Then, I made a commitment to sell the business to my head chef who has worked here for 21 years," Hood said. "If I'm going to take that much of a hit in selling the business, I figured it should at least be with someone I know and have worked with all this time."

Chef Omar Vega said he will team up with his brother Gilberto Vega to find a new location for Henry's and move the iconic sign and the simple menu to another spot.

"I am honored to take over this business," said Vega, who plans to keep the menu and name of the vintage business.

Although Hood and her family will no longer be involved in the business located at Moorpark Street and Tujunga Avenue, Hood said she planned to keep the "gringo taco stand" in Studio City somewhere, and she will participate in relocating it.

Pyken, who ran unsuccessfully for Studio City Neighborhood Council, said he was surprised that Hood backed out of the deal for the restaurant.

"I'm scratching my head, frankly," Pyken said. "I thought we could work out something. We gave Janis everything she asked for."

He and Steve Rose were going to invest in keeping Henry's at its current location. He said after she turned down the lower offer, they worked out a deal for the original offer, but by then, Hood made a commitment to Vega.

"I did it because we live here for six years and I want to take my daughter to a place that is iconic and I had the means to help out," Pyken said, "but Janis made her decision."

City Councilman Paul Krekorian was quietly involved in bringing all the parties to the table, according to Pyken. Hood criticized Krekorian for stalling on a decision to declare the site a historic landmark when it turned half a century old. (See Krekorian's letter by clicking here.)

"The councilman himself was hoping to broker a deal with us, and he has been excoriated for this because the public seems to think he created some of the problem," Pyken said. "Frankly, with the deal we had in place, it would have made no difference whether the building was declared historic or not. We wanted to keep the staff as it was, we weren't going to change the menu or a napkin otherwise."

Pyken, who owns a house in the Fryman Canyon area, said he would not be involved in any other business at the location.

The iconic sign will be preserved by local historians until a new site is located. The sign was designed by Studio City artist Dave Margolin, who still resides locally.

"The only other thing I want to keep from the building are the menu boards because the originals from 1961 are behind them," Hood said. 

The spurt of business that erupted from celebrities such as Elijah Wood and Breaking Bad star Aaron Paul, helped bring all the parties to negotiate a deal that kept Henry's running through the holidays. The troubles began last year when the landlord resisted Hood's attempt to get the building to be deemed a historic landmark.

"I feel very comfortable in allowing Omar to carry on this family tradition," Hood said. "But I think that the community that has supported us so much these past few weeks will find us no matter where it relocates. But anyway, it will still be a sad day."

Pyken said, "I am sad about Henry's too, and I feel like my time has been wasted."

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 Related Stories:

• For Everything About Henry's Tacos CLICK HERE!

• Henry's Tacos: A History in Photos and Video

• Henry's Tacos Testimonials: Why People Like Them

• Celebs Jump in to Save Henry's Tacos

• Exclusive: Henry’s Tacos Owner on Calling It Quits

• Henry's Tacos: What's Your Reaction?


Charles Ewing January 12, 2013 at 01:39 AM
Time to move on...
Charles Ewing January 12, 2013 at 01:50 AM
Never been to - nor know where they are - Live in Coldwater/Sherman Way area. here are good taco stands/truck in the area. What the loss ?? - Just another overpriced priced food joint...
LY January 12, 2013 at 03:02 AM
Leaving it to her head cooks - that warms my heart. Reminds me of Partamians Bakery - story below http://articles.latimes.com/2008/mar/15/local/me-armenian15
Alison Martino January 12, 2013 at 08:47 AM
CORRECTION: I do run Vintage Los Angeles on Facebook, but I am NOT preserving the sign. I'm not sure who led you to believe that. Perhaps you got me confused with Valley Relics on Facebook. Tommy Gelinas who runs that page and will be preserving the sign. No better person to take great care of it. So you may want to correct that if you can. :)
Morgan Margolis January 12, 2013 at 03:16 PM
Move to NoHo on Lankershim and take over the now defunct Phil's Diner.
Mike Szymanski January 12, 2013 at 04:38 PM
Thanks, it's done!
Mike Szymanski January 12, 2013 at 04:38 PM
That sounds like a perfect idea!
Mary McGrath January 12, 2013 at 06:19 PM
Haul to another location! What a great idea!
Elie D. January 12, 2013 at 07:51 PM
Glad I got to try Henry's Tacos before they closed!
Save Henrys January 12, 2013 at 11:35 PM
Janis Hood claimed she wanted to "Save Henry's" and instead killed it herself. The Patch stated Pyken & Rose offered $50k less but then met her terms quickly thereafter when she rejected that offer. Full asking price was not an issue in the end.The fact that she blames Pyken and Rose for not making a deal is purely fictional. Then she states she was "nickel and dimed by people with too much money"? She set the price, they met the price, what am I missing? Janis is an attention seeking spinster. She loved the attention that the fans & media brought on but moving this around the corner to a new location is NOT Henry's. At best, Henry's is just average sodium based Americanized tacos. What we love about it is the nostalgia of ordering at the same window from an era that no longer exists, pulling up to the same worn bench and biting into a hard shell taco that tastes like yesterday. Good luck Omar but I'm betting in a year or two when all the publicity dies down, so will the lines. The nostalgia factor will be long gone and all that will remain is an old sign and some mediocre food in a new space that doesn't feel like home anymore. Mr. Ebrahimpour in the end is the only winner here. He now gets to do what he wants with his building. No restrictions, no strings attached. And Janis will be forever regretting her decision and kicking herself for screwing this all up and destroying the institution her family left behind. Bye Henry's. It was a good 51 years.
Laura January 12, 2013 at 11:45 PM
Except it's two doors down from Chipotle.
Not Cool January 13, 2013 at 12:46 AM
Exactly! Hard to justify Janis Hood's thinking... let's see, I can sell to the kind soul who came forward to give me what I wanted and keep Henry's in the same location (which is what I said I wanted, by the way), or I can accept (presumably) less money and lose the location. Let's see - which one makes more sense? Janis, you're a whack-job who wasted a lot of people's time who fought hard to give you what you wanted. Feel sorry for Omar, who no doubt will lose a lot of business, due to his past employer's selfish, loud-mouthed antics. Adios Henry's!
kenneth scalir January 13, 2013 at 03:06 AM
Henry's needs a temporary stand at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.
alishajohn April 17, 2013 at 11:29 AM
I would like to say thank for sharing this great article. We can’t get this kind of information from http://www.afashion-house.com

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