Henry’s Restaurant, Pomona

This is a tie-in to today’s column on the John Lautner exhibit at the Hammer Museum. Lautner designed the former Henry’s restaurant at Foohill and Garey in Pomona.

Henry’s closed in 1971 and was demolished in the late 1980s after a stint as a (gasp) disco, but I know some of you remember it in its various incarnations.

“It was some of the most avant-garde architecture the Pomona Valley ever saw,” Charles Phoenix told me last week.

Anyone want to weigh in?

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  • Mo

    I remember the Henry’s building but Henry’s closed before my time. In the mid to late ’70s the building was a restaurant called Tiffany’s. Once Tiffany’s closed, the building was vacant for awhile before being demolished.

  • Bob House

    In the ’60s, we appreciated the cruise ambience more than the architecture. Today, it’s hard to believe they could operate a restaurant with what is my recollection of the number of, usually loud, cars circling the parking lot.

    Along with the Millard Sheets building east of Indian Hill, it gave that short stretch of Foothill an avant-garde flair. For what was really a coffee shop and drive-in, the thought given to Henry’s building was unusual.

    The story of “Chicken in the Rough,” Henry’s specialty, is interesting (you’ve got to love the logo artwork) and can be Googled.

    [Thanks, Bob. His second reference is to the former Home Savings Bank with the Sheets mural on the exterior. — DA]

  • Bob House

    And I forgot Sheets’ studio, another avant-garde icon, just east of the Home Bank building.

    [I didn’t know about that! — DA]

  • ray

    Didn’t HENRY’S have a run as the ODYSSEY DISCO ???

    [You’re right. I’d forgotten the name, but you nailed it. — DA]

  • Tad Decker

    I believe that the “Millard Sheets building east of Indian Hill” to which Bob House refers is actually the office building on the north side of Foothill (just east of Mills, maybe?), which I think was Sheets’ office.

    Another nearby example of Sheets’ work is a large mural inside the PFF building at the NE corner of Foothill and Indian Hill (and maybe he did the exterior murals as well?).

  • Bob House

    David, Sheets’ former studio is (or was — I haven’t driven past in a while) a large white box with “astrology-ey” images (I’m sure Mr. Sheets would love that description of his work) painted (mosaic?) on it. On the north side of Foothill, between Mills and Claremont Blvd, but a Google street view indicates it’s now mostly hidden behind trees.

  • Juan Garcia

    I visit the Sheets Studio every year. My opthalmologist’s is in his studio. It is something else in there with the exposed aggregate floors and various small mosiacs throughout the office.

  • Gwen Alber

    I read your column regarding Henry’s in Pomona. I decided to write to provide some additional information.

    “Chicken in the Rough” was actually broasted chicken with fries served in a basket. Henry’s in no way resembled Donahoo’s Chicken, Bob’s Big Boy or the Hi-Brow!

    As a high school student, after the Friday night football game we would all normally head for Hull House on Mission Blvd. in Pomona for hamburgers, fries and shakes. However if we had extra cash we would head for Henry’s.

    We were not particularly interested in the part of Henry’s where you parked in the car and had the carhops wait on you — we all liked to gather together. So we would go inside.

    Henry’s was kept atmospherically dark — it had a very elegant, grown-up feel. The decor was dark, muted tones. (If you look in Cruising the Pomona Valley by Charles Phoenix, pages 65, 66, 67, you can see for yourself what Henry’s looked like.) We would sit in very comfy booths and order our food and talk.

    There was a waitress, Beatie, who worked there and then went to the Jolly Roger Restaurant at Montclair Plaza. She worked in Montclair from 1969 to possibly 1980 or so and then I heard went to work at the Truck Stop on Milliken. She might still be there.

    [Thanks for the additional info and “color,” Gwen. I’m aware of the photos in Charles’ book and they offer an intriguing glimpse of the interior. Trying to imagine what the boat-shaped restaurant looked like from the corner is harder, although the photos at the Hammer do a better job of that. — DA]

  • Mary Hernandez

    Regarding Henry’s restaurant that used to be in Pomona on the corner of Foothill and Garey:

    Henry’s was a nice place to go. My boyfriend/husband and I enjoyed the drive-up service. We usually would order hamburgers.

    Henry’s was also a good place to go for lunch. I really liked their salads. (It was a good place for nearby employees to go for lunch.)

    We always wondered how/why such a good restaurant would go out of business.

  • Bill Gunn

    Hi David: after Chaffey football games in the 1950s we use to head for Henry’s for hamburgers, fries, and a shake. In 1962 I even had my first legal alcoholic beverage there, I remember it was a Tom Collins. The lighting was great inside and the booths were very cozy, it was a great place for young people. Bill

    [Nice hearing from you again, Bill. — DA]

  • Bill Gunn

    David: What about the MEL’s on Holt in Pomona, I heard it was still there!

    [Yes, that building still stands! Holt and Palomares, southeast corner. It’s no Henry’s, though. — DA]

  • Richard Lewis

    Re: Henry’s Restaurant

    My father, Ralph Lewis, built the restaurant as a general contractor in the late 1950s. In about 1980, I owned a disco there called The Odyssey for about a year.

    [Ah yes, the Odyssey. I’ll include that when I write that Henry’s piece. — DA]

  • roger holwick

    I just got to thinking about that restaurant the other day and starting looking for it and am surprised at the amount of info on it. I did the glass work on it as owner of Arcadia Glass in Arcadia. I remember the kind of different building that it was, a little bit of a challenge for the glass but we did it. Now, I am wondering if there is any way to get some photos of it, the inside and out, am willing to pay. Would appreciate some kind of reply. Thanks.

    [Charles Phoenix told me he had a heckuva time finding even one or two when he did his “Cruising the Pomona Valley” book. But the Lautner Foundation (or whatever it’s called) provided multiple Henry’s photos for the Hammer Museum show last year. — DA]

  • Jan-Richard Kikkert

    Does anybody have some more images? Color?

  • cph

    My family moved to La Verne about September 1979. I remember the “Odyssey Disco” building, but there never seemed to be much activity around it at any time.

    One of my dad’s friends would often joke to us kids, “Is that where you’re gonna hang out when you turn 18”? Alas, Odyssey Disco never lasted that long.

    I started college (UCSB) in late 1983. One day, on a trip home, I noticed that the building had been knocked down. (This was probably around 1985-1986 or so.) There was a picture in the Progress Bulletin of the Odyssey Disco sign with “Disco Sucks*” on the marquee, as they were getting ready to tear it down.

    *Or maybe “Disco Stinks” or something more suitable for a “family” paper.

    [Your note doesn’t suck. In fact, I’m glad to have the added details. — DA]

  • Mike Kennedy

    My father, Jim Kennedy, was the original part owner of Henry’s in Pomona. He also was the co-owner of Henry’s in Pasadena (top of the hill), in Glendale at the corner of Glendale & Colorado Blvds., one in Alhambra (old Clock Restaurant), and Carpenter’s in Arcadia, across from the race track.

    I worked in Pomona as a soda jerk in 1957. At the time it was built, it had this huge circular area, which had car-hop service. Its claim to fame was being able to service nearly 70 cars under that circular roof. It also had a coffee shop, a dining room, a cocktail lounge, as well as two room for banquets.

    What I remember most about driving from our home in Arcadia to Pomona….was the stretch on Foothill Blvd. was nothing more than chicken farms… a far cry from what it is today. Thanks to all of you for bringing back a childhood memory. My father has passed away almost 20 years ago…but those that knew him…were blessed..as he was the epitome of a perfect employer.

    Gary “Mike” Kennedy

  • Mike Kennedy

    Any information anyone wishes to know regarding Henry’s restaurant in Pomona…I will be happy to reply. My father, Jim Kennedy was one of the original co-owners of that restaurant..as well as the Henry’s chain in Glendale, Alhambra, Pasadena…and Carpenters of Arcadia. The restaurants in Alhambra and Arcadia were purchased. The original two restaurants in Glendale and Pasadena were all that existed, along with a commissary on Colorado Blvd..until they bought the old Clock restaurant in Alhambra…and Carpenters in Arcadia. Pomona was built for my father and a gentleman named Glen Amundson.

    • Bob Franks

      My name is Bob Franks. My dad, Robert Franks managed the Pasadena Henry’s, the Rite Spot in the 1960’s – 1970’s.
      He obviously knew your Dad and the whole management team very well. I would like to purchase some of the “chicken in the rough” shot glasses, cocktail glasses, or any other memorabilia available. Can you help me with this?
      Thank you very much.
      Bob Franks

    • Scott Windsor

      I remember the Henry’s in Pomona on north Gary Ave. and Foothill Blvd. I would love to see some old photos. I grew up in Pomona and Montclair, graduated from Montclair High school in 1962. . Those were the days.

  • Tycho Saariste

    Jan-Richard Kikkert and I have been searching for more info on all the John Lautner designed Henry’s since ages. Our students at the Fontys Architecture Academy in the Netherlands are building scale models of them right now. It is fantastic to finally be in contact with the people who know more than anyone about the places. Please Mr. Kennedy send me an email so we can exchange our knowledge and experiences.
    Tycho Saariste, The Netherlands, saariste@gmail.com

    [Scale models in the Netherlands of a defunct and demolished restaurant in Pomona?! Wow! — DA]

  • Jerry Selby

    Henry’s Top of the Hill in Pasadena was a favorite of my parents…best chicken ever!! They often took me & I remember looking out the bar area window at Annandale Country Club, though no 134 freeway at the time. The drive-in service was great too.

  • Don Crupi

    I was hopeing,you migth have a picture of the henry’s on valley blvd in alhambra ca.If you could call me at 626-590-9620 or email it to me. Thank you very much. Don Crupi. Glendora ca.

  • JL

    My folks took us regularly. It was a cool lookin bldg.

    We either ate at the sit down part or the (damn) dbl parking drive in — I kinda thought it was a silly arrangement, imagine having to back out with the tray still on the car. Funny thing, I don’t have any memory of the food, just of the bad parking in the drive in portion.

  • Burt Wong

    I recall this restaurant in Alhambra — by chance did you happen to come across their fried chicken recipe aka Chicken in the Rough?

    [Sorry, no.– DA]

  • Bob House

    “Chicken in the Rough” got its name because 1) it’s served on top of a bed of fries (“in the rough” as in golf; hence the golfing chicken logo) and 2) it was a half chicken served “unjointed” (whole) and without silverware, so it was kind of messy to eat. Nothing particularly unique about the recipe, except it was fried in a specially designed commercial pressure fryer — similar to the Colonel’s method.

    [Thanks for schooling us, Bob. I knew the “rough”/golf bit but the fries and all the rest was new to me. — DA]

  • Confused. Was Carpenter’s in Arcadia the same as Henry’s in Arcadia and which one was first. Big money is riding on this. Thanks.

    [Does someone know? — DA]

  • Art Landing

    I lived in Arcadia as a boy on a residential street just north of Carpenter’s. Chicken in the Rough (CITR) was the brand name for a franchised menu item consisting of broasted chicken, french fries and biscuits with honey. A couple im the thirties named Osborne trademarked the combination with its golfing rooster logo. Some say this was done in by hocking (others say selling) the wife’s wedding ring and then promoting the concept to independent restaurants.

    By the fifties the concept had taken hold. The Carpenters’ Henry’s chain apparently had the franchise rights for Los Angeles County because all the stores pushed the brand. Across the nation there were hundreds more affiliates and the placemats at Carpenter’s listed the locations. I never have understood why the Arcadia location didn’t carry the Henry’s name.

    A successor company owned by heirs of the original founders has a website trying to revive the concept (chickenintherough.com). It has three franchises. There is also a pancake house in Oklahoma City which uses the logo without being a formally listed franchise.

    I would be interested in someone chronicaling the history of the demise of CITR and also the disappearance of Carpenters and Henry’s.

    [Art, thanks for sketching the history for us. — DA]

  • Bruce Jones

    I remember Mike Kennedy’s father, Jimmy (as we called him) very well. My dad used to take us to the Pasadena Henry’s quite often, sometimes the drive-in and sometimes inside the restaurant. Jimmy and my dad were friends and Jimmy would always greet us. As I recall, after the Henry’s closed Jimmy opened up a restaurant called the Embers in Arcadia. It was located at the rear of a bank/office building just off the corner of Duarte Rd. and Baldwin Ave. I also heard that it was heavily damaged or destroyed in a fire. I lost track of Jimmy after that. BTW, wasn’t the Pasadena Henry’s the original location of Sternberger’s restaurant which has lately received some press for being the birthplace of the cheeseburger?

  • barbara f

    For teenagers (I seldom recognized anyone so I assumed mostly Pomona teenagers) it was all about cruising the drive-in. The interior had beamed ceilings. They served cocktails, my mother and dad both sipped “pink ladies” there one evening in martini glasses … and the waitress guessed I might want a “Shirley Temple.” Interior dining was replete with white linen napkins. I believe they even served fingerbowls.

    [I’ve heard that about fingerbowls. I think that was to clean your fingers after fried chicken, which was eaten with (gasp) your hands. — DA]

    • Scott Windsor

      I’m 71 years old and I remember it well including the fingerbowls. I been living in Laguna Beach for the last 40 yeas. It’s sad to go back to Pomona and Montclair, I honestly don’t feel safe there.

  • barbara f

    Didn’t the rooster in the logo actually hold a small putter (um, “chicken in the rough”…)

    [I believe so, yes. — DA]

  • Bob Franks

    My Dad managed the Henry’s “Rite Spot” in Pasadena. He worked for Glen Amundsen, Jim Kennedy, and Hazel Henry. I have been looking for shot glasses or cocktail glasses with the “Chicken in the Rough” logo. Does anyone know if they still exist. Would love to hear form you.

    • Bob Franks

      Has anybody found found any of these glasses or any other “chicken in the rough” memorabilia?

  • Lee NardyRoland

    In 1966 went to Upland High School. My girlfriends would all pile into my car and we would drive to Pomona to “our spot”. Met other kids from all over Southern California. Most fun I had as a teenager. We would park outside and have French fries and cokes. Thank you for the good times.