Owner Janis Hood said Friday that a potential sale of her family's 51-year-old business in Studio City fell through. She announced she will open at 9 a.m. on Saturday and go until the food runs out, or until 9 p.m. Then she intends to transfer the business to a longtime employee, Omar Vega, and try to help him find a new location. "It's been an honor and a pleasure serving OUR community!," Hood says on Facebook. "We're looking for a place to continue the legacy; my mom would want to tell you all 'Thank you for coming to Henry's!.'"
Sounds like the finals days of negotiations over the future of Henry's Tacos became complicated. On the Los Angeles Magazine website, Hood puts the blame on her potential buyers.
"The two potential buyers weren't happy with the rent deal they were offered," Hood explains. "So they come back to me and ask me to lower the selling price by $50,000. And right then I realized that I was tired of getting nickel-and-dimed by people who already have way too much money, so I thought 'Here I've got this incredible employee who's been with us for so long and he wants to take it over, why not pay it forward?'"
There are more details at Studio City Patch:
A deal was being ironed out this week between the property owner, Mehran Ebrahimpour of Beverly Hills, and Matt Pyken of Studio City, who wanted to buy the business from Hood. They got a 20-year lease agreement, but it forced the potential buyers to offer $50,000 less to Hood because of the higher rent.
"Then, I made a commitment to sell the business to my head chef who has worked here for 21 years," Hood said. "If I'm going to take that much of a hit in selling the business, I figured it should at least be with someone I know."
Chef Omar Vega said he will team up with his brother Gilberto Vega to find a new location for Henry's and move the iconic sign and the simple menu to another spot.
"I am honored to take over this business," said Vega, who plans to keep the menu and name of the vintage business.
Pyken told the Patch site that he's surprised the sale did not go through, and he credits Councilman Paul Krekorian with trying to broker the sale.
"I'm scratching my head, frankly," Pyken said. "I thought we could work out something. We gave Janis everything she asked for."
He and Steve Rose were going to invest in keeping Henry's at its current location.
"I did it because we live here for six years and I want to take my daughter to a place that is iconic and I had the means to help out," Pyken said, "but Janis made her decision."
According to Patch, the Henry's sign will be housed temporarily by Alison Martino of the Vintage Los Angeles group on Facebook.
Sunday update: Martino tells me she's not taking the sign. It's going with Tommy Gelinas of Valley Relics, she says. Also: Henry's is now closed. Lots of business on Saturday, and lots of media coverage.
LA Observed photo