It sounds as though Henry’s Tacos, the North Hollywood roadside mainstay, is going to be shut down. Sound familiar, you say? Well, that’s because similar woes faced the 51-year-old Mexican-American taco stand about one year ago. But this time, it doesn’t seem like there’s a fix.
Third-generation owner Janis Hood posted this on the Henry’s Tacos Facebook group page late Friday afternoon: [emphasis ours]
“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.”
Speaking with her on the phone shed a little more light on her situation. “Last year, when we reached our 50th anniversary, I really wanted to preserve my family’s legacy,” Janis told me. “So I applied to have Henry’s preserved as a historical monument. That’s when everything started going down hill.”
By doing so, she believes she upset property manager Mehran Ebrahimpour beyond repair. “I think he felt like I was trying to put restrictions on his property, and he’s had a vendetta against me ever since,” Janis asserts. “He increased my rent by 50%—which I’ve been paying for a year now—but he won’t officially renew my lease. And now, I’m finally at a point where I can’t do it anymore. It’s too much. My family is in Arkansas… I want to go to graduate school… but this nightmare [with Ebrahimpour] has taken its toll on me. I had no idea filing for the historical recognition would be emotional and financial suicide.”
The eponymous founder—Henry Comstock—was Janis’ late grandfather. His pocho tacos—filled with ground meat, red taco sauce, shredded iceberg lettuce, and yellow cheese—have certainly carved a place for themselves in the San Fernando Valley over the past 50 years. And the business was very much a part of their family; Janis worked there before going off to college to get a degree in teaching, and returned later to run the business once her mother Levonne—who’d worked at Henry’s for 47 years—passed away.
As for what the future holds, Janis reiterated that she’s made the decision to leave come December 31. “I really do hope that a buyer is able to make a deal before then, but so far, [Ebrahimpour] isn’t getting back to anyone. I called him personally Friday to try to let him know that I’m done with the historical aspect; I just want my family’s business to continue to prosper in good hands. I got a response from his lawyer, saying nothing more than that they’d be coming to inspect the building soon.” Ebrahimpour could not be reached for comment at the time of this posting.
“Needless to say, I am heartsick that after 51 years, Henry's may end for no good reason,” Janis said in closing her post on Facebook. “Thanks to you all for your support.”
Henry's Tacos, 11401 Moorpark St., North Hollywood, (818) 769-0343