For over 25 years, I’ve been working with and serving clients in the greater Southern California area with most of my work focused in the Los Angeles area. Although a lot of my work is in Los Angeles, I was born and raised in the Inland Empire, which is where I still reside. So, whenever I have to work in L.A., I always look for local spots to hold meetings. One of my favorite locations has always been Harold & Belle’s Restaurant. I even had my own special table where the staff would seat me whenever it was available. Long before I ever had the chance to meet the family, Harold & Belle’s felt like a second home to me. My favorite dish to this day is their charbroiled oysters.
Harold & Belle’s Restaurant is celebrating its 50th Anniversary this year and there are not a lot of restaurants, especially African American-owned, that are still in business after 50 years. The restaurant started as a dream by Harold Legaux, Sr., in 1969. Mr. Legaux was a native of New Orleans and he wanted to bring a little of that flavor to Los Angeles. He and his wife, Mary Belle, served Creole cuisine to the West Jefferson area of Los Angeles serving dishes such as filé gumbo, étouffée, and other Creole classics. It was a place where friends and family could gather, talk about old times, shoot pool and socialize. His kitchen was small but had deep roots.
In 1979, Harold, Jr., and his wife Denise, took over the business when his father passed away. Unlike his father, who enjoyed pool playing and a bar atmosphere, the younger Harold preferred a finer dining experience with tablecloths and soft lighting. Harold, Jr., like his father, had a penchant for New Orleans style cuisine, so he introduced several new items to the menu, including his version of shrimp scampi, shrimp creole, crawfish étouffée and clam chowder. He even offered filé gumbo every day of the week (instead of just on Fridays). To help the restaurant grow, in 1984 he expanded the restaurant from 12 to 35 dining tables and tripled the size of the kitchen. In 2011, Harold, Jr. passed away and the restaurant was passed down to the third generation.
Ryan and Jessica Legaux represent the third generation to take over the legacy of Harold & Belle’s. Together, the two have expanded the brand of Harold & Belle’s through various avenues, including their food trailer, Harold & Belle’s To Geaux; Harold & Belle’s Creole Seasoning; and by adding a state-of-the-art banquet room called the Peacock Lounge. There’s even a room called, “the Board Room,” that provides an intimate setting for small private events or meetings. The couple have also increased their catering options to take the delicacies out of the restaurant to your front door. The restaurant continues to be a mainstay in the community, Ryan and Jessica hope to take the restaurant into the future with a redesigned and updated menu that maintains the essence of what has made Harold & Belle’s a local favorite for 50 years, while considering the taste buds for the new millennials. Live entertainment is also provided in the bar on Friday and Saturday nights to profile local talent.
As far as I am concerned, anybody or anything that stays around for 50 years deserves to be celebrated and I plan to continue holding court at a table filled with charbroiled oysters, a glass of iced tea and, oh yes, let’s not forget about the beignets. I’m ready to celebrate Mardi Gras. Happy Anniversary! #HaroldandBelles50th
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