Harold and Belle’s is ready for customers with a renovated building after an eight-month long makeover. Harold and Belle’s is located at 2920 W Jefferson Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90018. For more info, call (323) 735-9023 or visit haroldandbellesrestaurant.com. (File Photo)

American Express and Resy launched “Every Resy Counts” on March 1. The reservation drive was commissioned to encourage people from New York to California to book a table at independently operated restaurants.  A vast number of reservations were placed, resulting in a $500K donation to Southern Smoke, in addition to other resources offered to dozens of restaurants across the United States.

The “Every Resy Counts,” initiative reached over four million reservations, prompting American Express and Resy to surprise local diners at Harold and Belle’s. Following the launch, Resy informed diners that they would be treated to dinner (up to $99  per person). Servers also informed guests about the news in real time at the restaurant.

Harold and Belle’s is close to American Express’ emotional core – they were the winners of last year’s “Backing Historic Small Restaurants” grant initiative. That program is returning this year to provide $40,000 in grant money to 25 historic local restaurants. The awarded money will be used to reestablish or enhance the restaurant’s physical space, digital presence, buy new equipment and provide employee training.

Ryan and Jessica Legaux are the third-generation operators of Harold & Belle’s, the historic “New Orleans in Los Angeles” restaurant. The creole-inspired restaurant has been open for over 50 years.

They serve traditional Southern cuisine. When the COVID-19 outbreak occurred, Harold and Belle shifted and focused on take-out, relying heavy on mobile apps that catered to placing orders online.

Throughout the pandemic, they were committed to supporting the community in the same way that the community had supported them. For instance, Harold and Belle’s worked on the mayor’s program to implement a senior meal program, providing over 2,000 meals each week to elderly individuals in their district.

Harold and Belle’s restaurant began with a family connection. Third-generation owner, Ryan Legaux, recalled that when his grandparents, Harold and Belle, started building their legacy, food was an afterthought.

Harold and Belles signature dishes (Courtesy)

They envisioned a social club where people in the community could gather to play cards, engage in conversation, and dance and sing while a pot of gumbo simmered in the kitchen. The Legaux family brought the spirit of New Orleans to Los Angeles, introducing a distinct flavor that is still enjoyed today.

The recipes are directly from the family kitchen and were established in Louisiana. “The recipes are coming from the home kitchen; this is just family tradition being passed down the line,” Ryan explained to L.A. Sentinel in a prior interview.

He recounted times in Louisiana when certain meals were traditionally served on particular days of the week and this is how the profound, Cajun flavor and seasoning in Harold and Belle’s signature dishes came about.

Detailing how Resy and American Express impacted their business, Ryan said, “It’s (Resy) a reservation taking system and it’s also a management system, which is a very valuable part in terms of knowing how to stage the dining of your tables and see how can you actually run your shifts.”

He continued, “I want to thank American Express and Resy, who has been supportive of us–as a small Black owned business.”