STUDIO CITY—A petition started to persuade the Los Angeles City Council to vote in favor of granting Henry’s Tacos in Studio City landmark status by its fans is 265 supporters shy of getting 6,000 paper and online signatures. In addition, the matter was recently referred to the Planning and Land Use Committee (PLUM) for further consideration.
“It is much more than just a taco stand or business to many of us who grew up in the neighborhood,” the online component of the petition states. “It is an important part of our collective history that not only has sentimental value, but cultural and historical value.”
Local fans of Henry’s Tacos, which has endeared them for 50 years with its so-called “gringo tacos,” have made progress with their goal of saving the stand, where even Republican Party presidential candidate Jon Huntsman reportedly enjoys eating when he is in California. But they have fallen short of gaining the support of the one person the petition targeted.
According to the online petition, supporters were asked to contact Councilmember Paul Krekorian, who represents L.A.’s Second District where the taco stand is located, to urge him to support its landmark status. But two staffers from his office told Canyon News that he has yet to take a position on the matter.
There is also the secondary goal of getting Henry’s Tacos owner Janis Hood a fair lease agreement, which expired on New Year’s Eve, though the stand remains in business. Mehran Ebrahimpour, the landlord, did not contact Hood prior to the lease’s expiration or serve a notice to vacate the premises, according to the petition website.
On January 6, Hood told followers of a Facebook page also created by fans of her stand that her attorney is still negotiating terms of a possible new lease with Ebrahimpour. She earlier said that he expressed not being interested in renewing the lease. In addition, the landlord said that a clause in the old lease stipulates that monthly rent under a new lease would have to be 150 percent of what she used to pay, Hood claims.
“You can imagine the amount that I now have to pay. I’m TIRED, my dear friends, and I don’t want to DIE because of the stress of this. Don’t know what will happen,” Hood said at the time.
Hood maintains that the landlord did not like that the Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission voted in December to recommend Henry’s Tacos for city landmark status. The commission found that the taco stand, which was designed by John B. Ferguson, met the criteria of the Cultural Heritage Ordinance because of its building type and design.
Specifically, the taco stand exhibits traits of roadside restaurants from the mid 20th century. Architectural historian Alan Hess said the stand also has a broad Googie style defined by an upswept roof, outdoor areas and scaled to the street. It has remained unchanged since 1961 and did not sustain damage during the 1994 Northridge earthquake.
In a recommendation report for landmark status, the Department of City Planning states, “While SurveyLA has not completed a comprehensive city-wide study of this building type, the number of significant early and mid-20th century walk-up food stands appears to be diminishing and as such are becoming a rarer building type.”
Landmark status would protect the structure from demolition, incompatible uses and construction. The city council can decide to act on the matter before PLUM does. If the latter acts first, the council will have at most 115 days to make a final decision.
Ebrahimpour had not responded to a request for comment at press time.