SEPT21Harold and Belle1web2For more than 50 years, Harold and Belle's has been an icon and an anchor in the historic Jefferson Park neighborhood, serving many New Orleans specialties to a sort of ex-pat community and introducing the rest of us to the nuances of fine dining, Creole-style.

In response to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the restaurant community, the National Trust and American Express launched a $1 million grants program, “Backing Historic Small Restaurants.”  In May, 25 historic and culturally significant restaurants throughout the United States won $40,000 grants designed to help them preserve, improve, and upgrade their physical spaces and online businesses. We are delighted to report that Harold and Belle’s was one of the lucky winners.

SEPT21HaroldBelle2To be eligible, the restaurants needed to be “historic” – that is, like Harold and Belle’s, they needed to have operated, and contributed to a neighborhood’s history and identity for at least 25 years. A restaurant also needed to be independently owned, and located in a historic neighborhood or building.  A preference was given to restaurants owned by underrepresented groups Persons of Color, POC and women.

SEPT21HaroldBelles3The funding will help each restaurant enhance restaurant exteriors, build new outdoor seating areas, and upgrade online businesses to help mitigate operating costs as they work to recover from the financial impacts of the pandemic.

Over the years, Harold and Belle’s has become the meeting place for neighbors that its founders envisioned when they established the restaurant in 1969. It is considered a local “landmark” – although it is not a designated historic resource -- and is a source of community pride in South Los Angeles, where restaurants of this caliber have not been common.

SEPT21HaroldBelle5Still family-owned and now run by third-generation owner Ryan Legaux and his wife Jessica, Harold and Belle’s has received numerous awards for its NOLA-style cooking — file gumbo, crawfish etouffee, jambalaya, and fried seafood.  This is not a restaurant review, but don’t forget the Louisiana bread pudding.

However, like many restaurants locally and across the country, Harold and Belle’s was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of its workers were laid off.  But Harold and Belle’s pivoted: the restaurant fed healthcare workers at Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital; senior citizens via City of Los Angeles programs; and staff at various COVID-19 testing sites. The restaurant also provided their furloughed staff with take-home meal kits.

With this National Trust award, Harold and Belle's will be able to fulfill the purpose of the award:

“To ensure that these legacy restaurants are able to survive this crisis stronger than ever, and that their stories will continue to be told.”




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About Us

Established in August of 2008 by writerartist Dianne V. Lawrence, The Neighborhood News covers the events, people, history, politics and historic architecture of communities throughout the Mid-City and West Adams area in Los Angeles Council District 10.

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