A neighborhood icon survives the swirl of urban change

By Alex Abels

This is the second of a four-part series on Jefferson Park and the changing urban neighborhood.

imageAlmost every community has one – a place to hang out, grab a bite, see friends and feel safe – think Central Perk in “Friends” or the Regal Beagle in “Three’s Company.” Places like these aren’t always portrayed in the media for predominantly black and Hispanic communities, but Jefferson Park has what many in the community call their “black Cheers”: Harold and Belle’s, a family owned Creole restaurant.

“The people here, it’s almost like family, ok. Everybody sitting at this bar, we know each other, we look after each other. We buy each other drinks, we buy each other food, it just depends what day it is. It’s almost like our cheers,” says Tony Sargent, who has lived in Jefferson Park for 40 years and has been a regular at Harold and Belle’s for most of that time.

Harold and Belle’s opened where it stands now in Jefferson Park in 1969 by Harold and Belle Legaux, a Creole couple who moved to the Los Angeles area from Louisiana. Many other Creole families from the seventh district of New Orleans were moving into Jefferson Park at this time, and the restaurant served as a small gathering place with a juke box and go-go dancers. The Legaux’s son took over in 1979, expanding the restaurant and making the Creole menu a bit more upscale. The restaurant has recently transitioned to the care of their grandson, Ryan Legaux, the current general manager of the restaurant.

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