Any business owner will say that owning a business has to be a labor of love. But for the owners of The Original Henry’s diner, it all started with a love story.

Ofelia Hogeda was a busgirl at the Original Zentner’s, in Rowena, in 1963, when she met Henry Hogeda, Sr., who was a cook there. 

“We dated for two years before I finally gave in and married him,” Ofelia Hogeda said with a smile. 
Ofelia learned early on that her husband was a go-getter. 

When the couple opened the first Henry’s restaurant location in 1973, they worked from 8 a.m. until 1 a.m. by themselves, because they couldn’t afford help. Rent for the space was $50 a month. 

Henry, Sr. would go in and prep in the morning, then go work as a carpet layer, and then come back and help with the noon rush- the three tables that filled their restaurant. After two years, they were able to hire a cook to help them. 

The business moved to their next location on Chadbourne five years later, and added Henry’s BBQ right next door. Henry, Sr. realized employees needed affordable housing, and built apartments for them behind the restaurant. 

“He had so many ideas,” said Rosa. “He loved buying businesses and renovating them.” 

Henry, Sr. wanted to open restaurants in San Antonio and Austin, but his family didn’t want him gone So, Over the years, the couple helped family members with their own business ventures, never forgetting the importance of raising their own children and teaching them the value of work ethics and family values. 

Henry, Sr. and Ofelia’s three children, Henry, Jr., Rosa Torres, and Karen Baretto, who lives in San Antonio, are all co-owners of The Original Henry’s Restaurant, which has been in its current location on Sherwood Way since 1992. Madelyne Torres, 9, is Rosa’s daughter, and can be seen helping in the restaurant when she’s not in school. She said she enjoys working at the restaurant, and that her favorite part is “The food!”

Like the rest of her family, Madeline is proud of the restaurant started by her grandparents, and is planning to keep her grandfather’s namesake going when she grows up.

Henry, Sr. passed away from lung cancer in May, 2017, but his legacy lives on through his family and his restaurant.

“My sister and I have grown up in this industry,” said Henry, Jr. “We want to represent my dad and support my mom. It is important that we fulfill my dad’s dreams, and keep it going.”

A family of faith, Henry, Jr. said that his father always reminded them that God blessed them with all that the restaurant provided.

“He was full of faith,” Ofelia said. “I have a lot of faith in God. We both did. We would pray a lot together. Whenever we opened a new restaurant, we prayed about it.”

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The Hogedas have not forgotten the importance their dad placed on giving back to the community that has supported him over the past decades.

“My dad always wanted more, so we can give back more to the community,” Henry, Jr. said. “All that we know is because of him.”

Rosa said their father spent his free time going to other restaurants, looking for ideas to make his own business better.

“He would tell people, ‘If you like it, tell others. If you don’t like it, tell me,’” she said.

Her dad was a “hard man to work for, a work-a-holic,” she said, but he worked as hard as he expected his employees to work, and rewarded them for a job well done.

“I don’t care how tired he was,” she said of her dad, “he would stay here and work until he couldn’t work anymore.”

“My sister and I have grown up in this industry,” said Henry, Jr. “I want to represent my dad, and support my mom, fulfill my dad’s dreams, and keep it going.”

Rosa remembers sleeping in her parents’ van on a mattress with her siblings, while Henry, Sr. and Ofelia worked in their restaurant until 1 a.m.

“We are very proud of what we’ve built,” Henry, Jr. said, “and we would like to thank the community and surrounding area for all their support.”

As the family talks about their patriarch, their love and respect for him is evident. Looking to the future, they want to move ahead, but keep the memory of their dad alive in the restaurant where the family has dedicated their lives. “We have to keep going with our restaurant,” Ofelia said. “That’s the legacy he left us.”

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