Henry’s Restaurant, Pomona

Today’s column is a capsule history of this fondly remembered drive-in, restaurant and coffee shop, which lasted from 1957 to 1971, became a nightclub and then a disco and fell to the wrecking ball in the mid-1980s. Architecture buffs are still mourning the loss of the structure, a notable example of John Lautner’s work. Here’s Lautner’s Wikipedia entry.

We’ve talked about Henry’s on this blog before — click here to read that — but now we have photos.

35115-henrys2.jpg
35116-henrys1.jpg

The two photos above are courtesy of the Pomona Public Library’s special collections room and date to 1957. The restaurant is so big it’s hard to get a good view of it, but these aren’t bad. The top photo emphasizes the drive-in area, whereas the dine-in entrance is highlighted in the other. You can see a bit of the Henry’s sign on the corner in the top one.

35126-henrys5.jpg

This photo above of the dining room is from Charles Phoenix’s book “Cruising the Pomona Valley 1930 Thru 1970.” To call it stylish doesn’t do it justice.

The photo at right below is also from Phoenix’s book and shows a bartender in the cocktail lounge hard at work.

The photo at left below is from Barbara-Ann Campbell-Lange’s book “Lautner,” a handy overview of the architect’s work, and shows the coffee shop portion. Note the cutouts in the wall, through which a sliver of the kitchen can be seen, and the huge window. No wonder critic Alan Hess, in his midcentury architecture classic “Googie Redux,” writes: “Indoors and outdoors flowed together smoothly.”

35127-henrys4.jpg
35128-henrys3.jpg
35114-wendys 002.jpg

And here’s the corner today. *Yawn*

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Plusone Linkedin Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email
  • DebB

    Henry’s was gone before I came to Pomona, and this is the first I’ve heard of it. But what a beautiful place! How incredibly sad that it’s gone. I mourn with the architecture buffs. “Yawn” doesn’t even say it all…

  • Doug Brooks

    Great photos! I remember that on my first visit to Henry’s as a kid, I thought the bowl of warm lemon water was soup and so started consuming it! I wish it was still around so I could cruise my ’56 Chevy wagon in the drive-thru!

    [You drank from the finger bowl? Ha ha! Thanks for the funny story, Doug. -- DA]

  • Warren

    Gee, thanks for reminding me of the proper name, I had Henry’s confused with another drive-in. I remember going to Henry’s several times with my parents, but they always ate in drive in. I only remember going inside once and then we had to wait. The one obscure thing I do recall is being parked next to a Pomona Police car with a dog in the back and the car-hop bringing a a bowl of water for him, I don’t think the officer asked for it. That does not happen too often now.

  • Bob House

    third picture down: I sat in the small booth in the center of the photo in 1965. Ah . . . I can hear the low rumble of cruisers with “twice pipes” (as Cheech said) from the parking lot.

  • JMac

    I really enjoyed this morning’s column, David. Henry’s will always be fondly remembered by me. I also have a copy of the top picture, and just shudder thinking about how such an amazing looking establishment was ultimately replaced by your very last picture. Ugh!

    One other architectural memory of that building were the front doors. As a young lad I had to make it a point to open one of them when we arrived, they were so big and heavy to open, as I recall.

    As for memories, well for one, seldom did I get the chance to eat at the drive thru. My folks weren’t big on car dining. Besides, most times we went up there was to visit my paternal grandparents. I think they ate there twice a week until it closed, and always in that cool bar. You’d think they lived in the neighborhood, but they lived on I St in Ontario between Mountain and San Antonio.

    I don’t ever recall eating anything other than the trademark “chicken in the rough.” Not only did they give you the finger bowls, but I recall learning that the honey for the biscuits was even better on the chicken.

    Do you take requests, David? I’d like to see a “wayback column” on the Taco Kitchen. That little Mexican restaurant in a quaint residential neighborhood. I miss them just as much.

    [Of course I take requests, JMac. I don't always do anything with them, but I take them! (More ideas come up than there's column space or time to pursue them.) If you'd like to e-mail me about Taco Kitchen, it might make a blog post sometime... DA]

  • Linda Frost

    Henrys was a fixture. The photos reminded me of what a spectacular piece of architecture it was. It went along with the Jetsons and other ’50s pop culture. Remember the Monsanto House of the Future at Disneyland? And, yes, eating chicken with ones fingers was frowned upon. (I still attack mine with a knife and fork. Those early lessons are sometimes hard to forget.)

    We used the drive-in many times in high school. I remember one prom when our dates took us to the dine-in part of the restaurant before the dance. Before you say that we had cheap dates, you might not know that the proms were held in the school cafeteria, not on the Queen Mary. In fact, the Queen was still plying the high seas, and proms were not the spectacles of conspicuous consumption they are now. Our limos were the family cars, the restaurants were local establishments, and we actually danced at the dance after spending all day decorating for it.

    I remember the Taco Kitchen. It was in the middle of the orange groves on Bonita in La Verne. The building is still there. My mother loved it, the food was good, and it had a gift shop with such things as English bone china. At a Mexican restaurant? Go figure.

  • Derek Christensen

    As a small child (1960s) I remember dining at Henry’s once (maybe a few times, but only once for certain).

    I had their chicken and it was my very first encounter with a “Corn Fritter.” Had to ask my parents for an explanation before I ordered it.

    Even as a small child, I was impressed by the architecture. Sad to see it replaced by a mini-mall.

    Also miss the “Mt. Baldy Drive-In Theater” sign (with the “Skiers-in-Neon”) on the S.W.corner of Foothill and White Avenue.

    [Originally there was an L.A. County Fair directional sign in neon on the Henry's corner. I saw that in the Henry's photos at the Hammer Museum last year. -- DA]

  • Bob House

    Re: Taco Kitchen — I went there as a child in the ’50s and remember it fondly. I’ve never been able to find anything about it on the Internet, until today — after reading JMac and Ms. Frost’s comments — when I found a TK matchbook cover for sale on Ebay. The cover reads:

    The Taco Kitchen
    Elsie & Marshall Moss
    Fourth Street at Fulton Road
    La Verne, Calif.
    Lycoming 4-2453

    “Calif.” and “LYcoming” date it to the ’50s, but I’m puzzled about the address. Fourth and Fulton would be in the same general area, but I remember it as being on Bonita also.

    [Did it move post-matchbook, perhaps? -- DA]

  • Bob House

    After consulting Google maps, I’m guessing that the portion of Bonita in La Verne was named Fourth at the time. I can’t find a Fourth St. in La Verne now, but Bonita lies between 5th and 3rd — and what appear to be a couple of unnamed streets (alleys?).

    [If only all mysteries were so easily solved. -- DA]

  • Eric

    David:

    Great post and article. I think if the building was still here, it could be very successful as a retro-type establishment.

    As for Taco Kitchen, Mr. House is correct in that what was once 4th Street is now Bonita Ave. The basic building that Taco Kitchen was located in is, for the most part, still there, although significantly remodeled. It is located at 2911 Bonita Ave., on the border of La Verne and Pomona, now know primarily as Simpsons Floor Covering (since 1999), although an insurance agency also shares the space today.

    The building was originally built in 1944, with gift shops added in 1948. Apparently there was a fire in 1958, and an expansion in 1968. Once Taco Kitchen closed (date unknown to me), several other restaurants occupied the space, none as successful as Taco Kitchen, until the building was remodeled in 1998/1999 for Simpsons Floor Covering.

    [An exemplary job of research, Eric. -- DA]

  • Bob Terry

    Being a “child” of Pomona, I don’t ever remember eating there because it was probably a special night out for my parents, whether it was there…or Orlando’s or maybe the St. Charles Grill. I did have the “honor” of cruising the area in 1971 in my 1965 Chevy Malibu SS, pearl yellow with a punched-out 327 all the way from down south via Garey High School.

  • Craig E. Hellman

    David, my buddy A&W Larry had great times going to Henry’s as those cherry cokes were great, also great cars came to show off their ride!!!
    Sincerely, Craig!!

  • Keith Irwin

    We used to “cruise” through Henry’s nearly every Friday & Saturday night, late 50s-early 60s. Occasionally, when we could afford it, we would actually stop & have a coke or maybe an order of fries. That was really a treat, because an attractive young lady on roller skates would take our order. It’s true — they never should have torn it down. In later years, the only similar experience you could get in the local area was Larry’s A & W Drive-in, Ontario, but even that is gone now.

  • Tricia Boss

    I remember this restaurant!! Went there as a third grader with my Sunday School teacher and then once again with my family. It is also where my husband to be first saw me when it was the Odyssey Disco in 1974. Thanks for posting these pictures as it brings back fond memories for me.

    [You're welcome. Incidentally, the way I understand it, it was Tiffany's in 1974 and probably Odyssey Disco in 1984. -- DA]

  • Fred Henderson

    Hello David:

    Henry’s was, like Kapu Kai in Rancho Cucamonga, a beautifully designed building. As a youngster growing up, we would eat there at times. The food was great but the decor was awesome. In 1968, I was at W.R. Shadoff’s picking up my new Road Runner one evening when I decided to take it up to Henry’s to check out all the cruisers, females, too. Great place to check out all the latest performance cars. Or stop by for a quick bite before heading out to see the latest James Bond flick.

    Taco Kitchen was the place to eat. Best Mexican food in the valley.

    Fred Henderson
    Everett, WA.

  • JL

    I remember all those places growin up in Clmt. as a kid — Henry’s — we ate there several times both in the restaurant and the drive in (it had tandem parking there how inconvenient). Wasn’t it a chain. Taco Kitchen — ate there too, and the bldg. still there. And the Kapu Kai — Tiki ultimate. Wasn’t it destroyed by a flood in the 70′s. Sad to seem em go. Funny thing tho I have no memory of the food or how good/bad it was, musta not been too bad as we ate at those places more than once.

    [You can search the blog for Kapu-Kai and learn more about its passing. As for Henry's, click on the link to read the related column -- yes, it was a chain! -- DA]

  • Sharon Bolinger

    Loved the article on Henry’s. Sad but now living in the south I find they try harder to keep old buildings and appreciate their ambiance to the land and community. As students from Chaffey we visited Henry’s often, don’t remember ever having the chicken. Our meals consisted of onion rings or fries and a coke. Fun times, fun memories and thanks for bringing this back.

    A friend in Upland told me about this blog so here I am. Remember the Kapu-Kai, what about Burger Lane, the Hot Dog Show. Thank goodness Vince’s is still standing, they employed plenty of us. Thank you again. from Mobile Alabama

    [Hi, Sharon. Come back again and explore the blog. Search for Kapu-Kai and you'll find a lot of stuff. -- DA]

  • http://www.pomonahighalumni-1957.com Jim Christianson

    Henry’s was THE place to go. I was a regular there every Friday and Saturday night. Many great races were arranged there and the parking lot across Foothill Blvd. The food, the car-hops and the sights were outstanding.

    I was born in Pomona in 1939. Graduated from PHS in 1957 and lived in Pomona until 1983. My Pontiac’s were seen there very often. I used to park on the north side of the island and quietly uncork. Then, when a space was available in front of me, I’d roll quietly down into the space and eat. When I was done, I’d fire up the engine and raise the roof on both sides of me. The girls would scream. The guys would laugh. What great fun. I’d give anything to cruise “Hank’s” once again.

  • CHARLES H HOLMES

    I LIVED IN POMONA FROM 1943-1955, GRADUATED PHS, THEN USAF…BACK TO POMONA FROM 1960-64… I LIVED IN A MOBILE HOME CLOSE TO HENRYS AND ATE THERE A LOT…I WONDERED WHAT HAPPENED TO IT…THANKS FOR THE UPDATE…WHAT A TRAGEDY TO LOSE AN ICON SUCH AS HENRYS…SEEMS TO BE THE WAY OUR CIVILIZATION IS GOING….NOT THINKING…

  • Bob Kaufman

    I worked on the remodel of Henry’s when it became Tiffanys. I also lived just around the corner, and yes I cruised Henry’s 60 and up, loved the onion rings. My father was one of the subcontractors on the job. I wasn’t real happy when Henry’s closed.

  • Janet

    The Taco Kitchen had the BEST Mexican food I have ever eaten! And in 1970, it was still serving food. However, after the original owners sold the place, the new people unwisely did not keep the cook. So, things were different and definitely the place slipped. If they had access to the original recipes, I think the place would still be there — people came from all over to eat there. In fact, I wish I could go there for dinner this evening! We no longer live in the area, but just happened to see this column.

  • Kathy Kurki Holloway

    I was born at Park Ave. Hospital in 1950. I graduated from Ganesha High in 1968. I remember the Cherry Lime Rickeys at Henry’s. We used to eat at the Taco Kitchen at least once a week when I was growing up…the best Mexican food ever. We also liked Pascal’s hamburgers on North Garey by the railroad tracks. Such great memories.

  • Sam Kuntz

    Dave, I remember my dad was one of the subcontractors on the building of Henry’s and also the Jade Palace in Montclair. When I was in high school we used to cruise Henry’s, the bowling alley and the Big T lot, also Arby’s. Fun times.

  • Karen Cullen

    As a child in the ’50s I went to Henry’s many times with my family — eating it the car. Occasionally we’d get to eat inside. When I graduated from 8th grade in 1958 (Glendora) a whole group of us were brought to Henry’s in our formal “gowns” for dinner. Our parents drove us. It’s sad that it’s gone.

    Our family used to eat at the Taco Kitchen, usually a special occasion, and with other relatives. We loved to go there. Sopapilla (sp.?) was great and albondigas soup. I also loved the gift shop. Always tried to get my folks to let me buy something. It was a very special place.

  • Craig E. Hellman

    Henry’s, as i said great place. if it were here today with the old cars that we had then but cost much more today, myself and my buddies, like A/W Larry would go there and hang OUT! Cherry Cokes, Good times!!!

  • http://www.briansstory.com Bill Rosar

    A very belated additional comment on Henry’s: Brian Hill got the job of demolishing Henry’s in the mid-1980s and recycled the massive glulam timbers in the Gothic castle he built up in Webb Canyon, itself ultimately destroyed by arson fire in 1994.

    Brian, who was the one who spray-painted the words “Disco is Dead — Long Live Rock n’ Roll” on the sign, had known and loved that building, having virtually grown up with it. So when the time came, he “lovingly” dismantled it piece by piece, knowing in advance that he would salvage material from it. I have photos documenting the entire demolition process from beginning to end.

    Brian retrieved the blueprints, which had been stored in a nook of the restaurant kitchen and had apparently gotten overlooked when the place was vacated. I am happy to report that a duplicate set of them has been preserved by the Lautner Foundation, because Brian’s copy perished in the fire.

    I wrote an article entitled “Dream Castle” about Brian’s saga at the time for The Claremont Courier, and am now developing it into a feature film screenplay http://www.www.briansstory.com

  • Bill Rosar

    Lautner designed this during the period in which many of his buildings were shaped like flying saucers, such as the Bob Hope house out in Palm Desert.

    A former customer of Henry’s told me that there was something advanced about the design of the air conditioning system, too — “space age” I think is the word he used — because the ducts were run under pools of water (or some such — he said he had read about it in a magazine or newspaper).

    Brian Hill thought that Henry’s had been the inspiration for the car stop restaurant in the George Lucas film “American Graffiti.”

  • Linda Hjelm

    I remember Brian taking pride in breaking down buildings with great care. I do remember his home and family. I believe his father was a teacher. I would love to be able to contact him or have someone contact me.
    Linda

  • Tim

    Brian Hill’s father was named Ted Hill and he taught art class at Palomares Jr. High School in Pomona during the 70′s. Ted Hill was a kind and generous man who administered a 4-H club and had us young ones up at his house at the top of Web Canyon Road and taught us to ride and care for horses. The one I road was an old mare named Ginger. I met Brian Hill, but only briefly and he was 8 or 10 years older than me.