By Frank Sheftel
I am sad to see another icon of the Valley shuttering its doors after 51 years of providing delicious food to the community. Henry’s Tacos in Studio City, with its kitschy retro sign, has announced that it couldn’t work out a deal with its landlord and will close on Dec. 31. An effort to have it designated a Historical Landmark apparently upset the property owner enough that he wouldn’t accept a new operator for the business. Councilman Paul Krekorian, who represents the District, considers it a landlord-tenant dispute, and has chosen not to get involved.
It’s really just a sign of the times. We have all seen this happen before. Greedy landlords that think they’re sitting on gold mines only to end up with an empty property that sits idle and doesn’t get rented again. How fantastic to have a business paying rent for over 50 years and doing well selling tacos to a hungry, appreciative neighborhood that allows people an income and a livelihood. Oprah Winfrey even featured Henry’s as one of the Olsen twins’ favorite fast food places a few years ago. I remember the lines after that show aired.
Phil’s Diner still sits empty in the middle of the NoHo Arts District. Another victim of greedy landlords. As we see the food truck phenomenon continue to take off, the brick & mortar locations get beaten down again and again. We know there is a market for nostalgia. The Bob Hope yard sale in Toluca Lake that sold out days early shows the appetite people have for the oldies and goodies of our childhood memories. As I get older I have come to appreciate the history of our Valley.
This year right before Thanksgiving I became seriously ill and was taken to the emergency room at Kaiser Hospital on four separate occasions. I was diagnosed with a severe case of bronchitis and had a fever of 104. For over three weeks I have been on bed rest — a difficult thing to do when you’re self-employed and run a business that is very busy during the holidays.
I have appreciated my friends and family stepping up to help run my Candy Factory while I recuperate from what has been a grueling illness. The Candy Factory has been open over 35 years so I know what it’s like to have a business for several generations. It’s not always so easy. Communities take businesses like the Candy Factory and Henry’s Tacos under their wings and keep them open and thriving by supporting these mom & pop establishments every day. Enjoy every moment. Life is shorter than we think.
Happy Holidays from my family to yours. And go enjoy a taco from Henry’s while you still have the chance. Maybe a holiday miracle can still save this iconic taco stand. Feliz Navidad.