51 years later, Harold and Belle’s still has expansion on its mind during pandemic
More than five decades after they began importing Creole recipes to Los Angeles, Harold & Belle’s is still advancing their narrative.
The company is bringing its classic dishes to Anaheim, marking the first expansion into a new city for the brand. The eatery has been located in the Jefferson Park neighborhood of Los Angeles since 1969.
They hope to open their second location in late February.
“We’ve kind of taken this time, this crazy time of COVID-19, to work on still growing and expanding. It’s been a good opportunity for us,” said Director of Operations Andrew Alvarado.
The Legaux family, which owns Harold & Belle’s, is used to adjusting to new challenges with each generation.
Harold & Belle’s was originally a pool hall serving mostly po’ boys in addition to filé gumbo on Fridays when it was opened by Harold Legaux Sr. However, Harold Jr. envisioned a fine dining experience when he took over management of the restaurant.
Harold Jr. introduced New Orleans-themed dishes, such as shrimp scampi, shrimp creole, crawfish étouffée and clam chowder and began offering the filé gumbo daily. He also brought in new ownership partners in 1984 and expanded the restaurant from 12 to 35 tables.
Now the third generation of owners, Ryan and Jessica Legaux, are taking the next steps as well with the Anaheim expansion and by adjusting to the COVID-19 pandemic, Alvarado said. Harold & Belle’s has increased their use of third-party apps like Uber Eats, DoorDash and Postmates and knocked down a wall to create a to-go window during the pandemic.
“I think it’s crucial, and I think it’s really very surprising to be in this position that we’re in, in the middle of the pandemic, just because there’s a lot of folks that are really, really suffering right now. We’re trying our best just to stay relevant and even to grow during this crazy time.”
Despite a new restaurant and different focuses, the eatery will not forget its roots and connection to the community, Alvarado said.
For instance, Harold & Belle’s is working with the mayor’s office to provide 2,500 meals per week to elderly people. The program is a win-win because it provides business for taxi drivers, who transport the food.
Harold & Belle’s also takes pride in being a place where memories are made.
“We have people that have been coming in for literally 40 to 50 years. They had their wedding anniversary here. Mr. Lebeaux is a gentleman that had his wedding rehearsal dinner here, and they just celebrated 48 years of marriage.”