The restaurant chain is owned by former New York restaurateur James Barone.
But Laguna is a little different from other Portland restaurants because the owners are all immigrants.
“Laguna Beach was a very safe and welcoming community for immigrants,” said Barone, who is now CEO of Barone Ventures, a venture capital firm.
“You can go in there and eat your meal, and you’re in a comfortable setting.”
Barone said he’s seen Laguna become a destination for people looking for a quick fix.
“There’s a lot of people who want to be here.
They want to come in, and they don’t want to go in the cold, dark, wet, wet summer days.”
Baron is a lifelong resident of Portland, where he’s lived for more than 40 years.
He moved to the city in 1995 and started Laguna in 2003.
“It’s a little bit of a shock, to be honest,” Barone told CBC News.
“We have a lot to learn from each other.”
Laguna opened in 2008 with about 200 employees, most of whom are immigrant workers who arrived from Colombia, Mexico and Peru.
But now the restaurant has more than 400 employees, including about 60 immigrants, who live in the restaurant’s restaurant hall.
Barone says that’s a success story for the community, with the majority of the restaurant staff being from Mexico, Peru and Colombia.
“In the past, people would come here and say, ‘Oh, I’m coming for work, I’ll work here for a while,'” Barone explained.
“And they’d have no clue that they were coming to Laguna to work and to eat, and that they’re going to be welcomed here.
That’s the great thing about Laguna: that they are welcoming.”
Barons success story has been celebrated by other businesses in the city.
Restaurants from all over the city have come to Lagunas food court, Barone’s said.
The restaurant also has a strong community engagement program.
Barons restaurant is one of the only businesses in town where the employees are able to attend community events, such as the Portland Food and Wine Festival.
“I think we’ve done really well with this, and I think that it shows the support of the community and that Laguna and its culture and the way that we live, work and play, is one that is valued,” Barones CEO said.
“People don’t really know us, so they don, you know, they can come in and have a conversation with us and we can have a community conversation with them.”
The owners hope Laguna continues to expand and attract new residents.
“The more people that come, the more people we can keep here, and the more we can continue to do our business,” Baron said.
He also said Laguna will continue to grow in size as it becomes more popular.
“Because of the popularity of Laguna, we’ve been able to attract more customers, which is great, and it’s also going to grow more and more as we continue to expand our restaurant and expand our business.”