L.A. Now Live: Celebrities, fans fight to save Henry's Tacos
To its fans, there is something quintessentially L.A. about Henry's Tacos, which was opened in 1961 by a white guy from Nebraska, had bit parts in movies and TV shows like "Adam 12" and boasted loyal customers who included working Joes and Hollywood celebrities.
But now the Studio City taco stand might close at the end of year, and fans are rising up in protest. Times reporter Ben Poston will join L.A. Now Live at 9 a.m. to discuss the allure of the 51-year-old taco stand.
Long lines have started forming around the modest midcentury stand at the corner of Moorpark Street and Tujunga Avenue. Celebrities such as Aaron Paul and Elijah Wood showed up to buy tacos and lend their support. And a Web campaign has taken off, including Facebook groups like "Occupy Tujunga" and hundreds of Twitter posts with the hashtag #SaveHenrysTacos.
The battle focuses in part on whether Henry's is more than a taco stand — whether it's actually a piece of history worthy of official preservation. In a city that boomed after World War II, L.A. has debated giving historic status to a car wash and space-age Googie buildings. But for devotees of Henry's, it's less about the architecture than the era it conjures: the mid-20th century San Fernando Valley.
Henry's Tacos' impending closure is the result of a year-long dispute that started when owner Janis Hood applied for a historical monument designation for the stand last year. Hood said her landlord increased her rent 50% and has refused to renew her lease since last December.
Hood believes the landlord, Beverly Hills businessman Mehran Ebrahimpour, was irked because a historical designation would put land-use restrictions on the property. Ebrahimpour could not be reached for comment through his lawyer.
The support for Henry's has been overwhelming, she said. More than 5,600 people have signed an online petition to save the restaurant, and loyal patrons have posted video testimonials online.
"I knew I wasn't the only one who grew up with Henry's and loved it," said Hood, of Sherman Oaks. "Henry's is one of the very few places that is still around and hasn't changed. Someone said it's like eating a memory."