Ask Paul...Where Do You Stand on Henry's Tacos?

Have a question about your community? Ask your Councilmember by emailing AskPaul@lacity.org.

Dear Councilman,

There is no substitute for the great Henry's!  I hope it can be saved. It has been a special place for my entire family for the last 18 years. My husband who went to North Hollywood High has great memories there too.  We have both lived in Studio City our entire lives and pray that this is one place than can be kept alive. The special places all go: Tail o The Cock, Sambos, Tiny Naylors.  I remember them all.  SAVE HENRY'S, PLEASE.  Thank you.

Dear Friend:

Thank you for writing to me about Henry’s Tacos in Studio City.  I always appreciate hearing from the people I represent about issues that are as important to our community as this one.  In this case, I especially appreciate having the opportunity to provide you with an update and to clarify some of the misinformation that unfortunately seems to be circulating about the status of Henry’s Tacos.

Firstly, one thing is clear and beyond question – Henry’s Tacos is an institution. For more than five decades, the walk-up taco stand has attracted diners -- and public attention -- from throughout Los Angeles and beyond. It stands out both for its historical relevance to the neighborhood and its character-defining features of mid-20th Century roadside eateries, and it is one of those special landmarks that add to our sense of place.

At its meeting of December 15, 2011, the Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission voted to include Henry’s Tacos in its list of Historic-Cultural Monuments.  That was great news for Henry’s, and also for our community, and it was a decision with which I agree.

The next step in the process of receiving historic status will be a review by the City Council’s Planning and Land Use Management (“PLUM”) Committee, and thereafter a vote of the full City Council.  At its meeting on February 28, 2012, the PLUM Committee decided to postpone consideration of the status of Henry’s Tacos to a later date, essentially giving the owner and landlord more time to work together toward renewal of their lease, which had already expired in December. 

There is no adverse consequence to PLUM’s continuance of the matter.  Even if Henry’s nomination of historical status were to expire, the application can simply be resubmitted at any point without any negative result whatsoever.
It is important to make clear that the City Council’s eventual decision about the historical status of the Henry’s Tacos building has nothing to do with whether or not Henry’s Tacos stays in business.  

If historical status is granted, and the private business owner and private landlord decide not to renew their lease, there is simply nothing that the City can do to compel them to continue operations.  I believe it would be in the community’s best interests if the business owner and landlord negotiate an agreement, and I have urged them to do so.  If those efforts fail and either party decides to walk away, however, our community could be left with a protected historical structure that is nothing more than an empty shell – a cherished building, but one with no business housed in it.

It is also important to note that there is nothing suggesting that Henry’s is threatened with destruction.  Many people have contacted my office asking me to “save” Henry’s Tacos, but there is no imminent threat to Henry’s Tacos from which it needs saving.  The property owner has not applied for any change of use for the property, or proposed any development plans, or sought any change in entitlements, or otherwise taken any action at all to suggest that the Henry’s Tacos building is facing destruction or even modification. 

During my two years as a City Councilmember, I have been consistently committed to historical preservation.   For example, my office took unprecedented steps to ensure that the historic World War II-era Chase Knolls Garden Apartments would be properly maintained in keeping with the requirements of the Mills Act.  Likewise, I allocated $250,000 in discretionary funds to support maintenance of the historic McGroarty house in Tujunga, and I supported a historical designation for a veterans’ memorial in the area as well.

I am just as committed to ensuring an appropriate historical designation at an appropriate time for the Henry’s Tacos building, consistent with the findings of the Cultural Heritage Commission.

The only challenge that Henry’s is facing right now, however, is due to a private business relationship.  It is not at all due to the status of the City’s historical designation process.  While I am certainly supportive of such a designation, the passionate effort by many in our community to “save” Henry’s is best directed to the business owner and the landlord, for it is they alone who will decide whether Henry’s will continue in business and remain a valued community institution.  

I will be happy to keep you updated on this situation as it progresses.  In the meantime, as always, I continue to welcome your comments.
Very truly yours,


Councilmember, Second District

Mike Szymanski March 25, 2012 at 07:47 AM
There is obvious support for Janis, because there are more than 500 votes for her in the poll!
Bill Greenspan March 26, 2012 at 05:58 PM
I've had the pleasure of eating at Henry's since 1963. In this day of chain restaurant swarms, having an institution like Henry's is refreshing and important to our community. Are there better tacos? Not the point - the point is Henry's is a family owned small business that is a tradition for those of us fortunate enough to have grown up with Henry's. Do we need yet another Starbucks or McDonalds? Henry's is a remnant of the fabric of the old San Fernando Valley. Please support Henry's - everytime a property is 'developed' we lose another piece of our identity.
Bob Peppermuller March 26, 2012 at 06:20 PM
Keep it but the property owner should be compensated.
Frank Mihelcic March 26, 2012 at 09:23 PM
As a renter they know they do not own the property. As a business that has been in operation for so long they did have the business savvy, time and opportunities over the years to purchase a property for their business. We are in a recession with property prices at a low also there are many vacant business locations for rent in the area. Henry's many supports would follow them to their new location.
Skraeling May 12, 2012 at 08:40 PM
The more important question not mentioned here, is property rights..I live down the street, could care less about bad taco joints, but it is a landmark, such as it is..However, a slum seems to be developing beginning on Vineland and continuing down Moorpark to Tujunga..lots of abandoned furniture, overturned garbage, litter, and graffitti, and the old Village BBQ, mismanaged in development for the now defunct 81/2 is being vandalize daily, with boarded up windows looking like the worst of Detroit, and trees being destroyed. It is painful to watch the decline of Studio City that begain with Wendy Gruel and her developer friends and union hacks..a shame..


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