Uncle Harry’s closes after 34 years of good food, good times

Mediterranean-style restaurant Uncle Harry's Classic Meals unexpectedly closes up shop in downtown Reedley

Uncle Harry's Classic Meals sits at the corner of 10th and G Street in downtown Reedley, a historic staple of the city, April 19, 2024. The restaurant closed its doors in early April.
Uncle Harry's Classic Meals sits at the corner of 10th and G Street in downtown Reedley, a historic staple of the city, April 19, 2024. The restaurant closed its doors in early April.
Serena Bettis
Published April 24, 2024  • 
4:30 pm

REEDLEY – Uncle Harry’s Classic Meals, a downtown Reedley institution, closed its doors for good in early April. 

The restaurant, located at 1201 G St., has been around for decades, staying open even as ownership changed hands. Its closure came as a surprise with little fanfare or explanation, though many community members have said they will greatly miss the restaurant and its memories, Armenian food and historic atmosphere. 

Opened by Harry Horasanian in September 1990, Uncle Harry’s operated out of the same century-old building that stands on the southwest corner of 12th Street and G Street for 34 years. At one point in the 1990s, four different businesses including Uncle Harry’s occupied the space; now, only El Monte, a Mexican restaurant, remains. Oscar Rubio, the current building and restaurant owner, has not responded to a request for comment about why the establishment closed. 

At Uncle Harry’s, a diner could expect to find Mediterranean-style dishes including stuffed peppers and lamb shish kebabs, as well as Horasanian’s well-known spaghetti sauce.

The restaurant’s appeal had a much wider radius than just Reedley or its surrounding areas, though it was often highlighted in The Fresno Bee as a great place to stop along the Fresno County Blossom Trail. In 1995, freelance writer Michael Krikorian included the spot in a Los Angeles Times article describing his own journey north through the Valley to find Armenian foods “like Grandma made.” 

Additionally, Uncle Harry’s had a few notable visitors over the years, including Chuck Yeager, a U.S. Air Force pilot who was the first person in the world to exceed the speed of sound, and Huell Howser, a TV personality and actor who hosted the documentary television series “California’s Gold” for 19 seasons.

A bite of history

According to archives from the Reedley Exponent, Uncle Harry’s officially opened on Sept. 27, 1990; it closed with little warning on April 5 of this year.

The faded brick building was once home to a three-story hotel built in 1890 and opened in 1893. Although the hotel changed hands and names many times throughout its life, Reedley Exponent archives say it was best known as the Hotel Grand. A 1929 fire destroyed the ornate roof and third story, but the rest of the building was saved and a flat roof was added over the floor of the third story. 

In March 1999, the Reedley Historical Society awarded the building with the city’s 26th historical marker. In addition to the Hotel Grand, Uncle Harry’s and El Monte, the building was once known for the Santa Fe Market and Stage Depot, a grocery store and bus stop that was in business between the 1930s and late 1960s. 

Horasanian bought the building in 1995 from Nubar Hagopian, nephew and executor of the estate of former owner Varsh Manoogian, who died in 1994. Manoogian’s father had purchased the building in 1919. 

Horasanian retired in 2015 and at that time sold Uncle Harry’s, and the building, to Rubio, who is from Visalia. Horasanian died in 2021 at the age of 86. He was raised in Monson, an unincorporated community southwest of Cutler-Orosi, and attended school in Dinuba.

Before getting into the restaurant world, Horasanian attended building trade school at the College of the Sequoias in Visalia and ran Harry’s Cabinets and Building Materials out of Orosi for 35 years. He never let go of his carpentry background, however; Reedley Exponent articles published around the same time Horasanian was buying the building said that he wanted to renovate the building and, in his words, “put the third story back on the Hotel Grand,” but those plans never worked out.

A column from former Reedley Exponent Editor Budd Brockett published in November 1993 said, “Every afternoon, usually around 3 to 3:30, Uncle Harry’s seems to be the gathering place for afternoon socials, aka coffee drinkers … who drop in every so often. I’m not completely sure but I think a lot of the world’s problems are solved there, right on the corner of 12th and G in downtown Reedley.”

Serena Bettis
General Assignment Reporter