After some typical construction delays, Laughing Planet is set to open this Spring in the former I Heart Retro location at 1914 N.E. 42nd Ave. in Hollywood. Franz Spielvogel, owner and CEO of the environmentally conscious, community-driven restaurant chain, has promised to have doors open for business by April 8. The 3,000-square-foot Hollywood space will be the restaurant’s tenth Portland location.
“We’ve always wanted to be in Hollywood and we’re really excited to be a part of the neighborhood and the community,” said Spielvogel. “My family used to live up in Alameda and we often lamented the limited options for quick, healthy, affordable and tasty food. Hollywood is a great neighborhood. Lots of families, good schools, nice parks. All the amenities are there – grocery, pharmacy, bank, bakery, medical clinic, breweries, etc. – except for what Laughing Planet provides – which is everyday food for everyone.”
The healthy-menu cafe’s extensive renovation – which now includes significant seismic upgrades – features three interior spaces divided by “living” walls, with 65 seats inside and an additional seating for 20-24 at a patio-area on the southern side of the building. When open, the restaurant will have 22 employees on site. Design work was done by architect Todd Lasher. Riverwood Construction was general contractor for the project. Spielvogel’s project team has been in place for years and have fine-tuned the art of delivering a Laughing Planet Cafe.
“I believe in family, community and collaboration,” said Spievogel. “I have to say that we have the best electrician in the galaxy – Kevin Cameron of Cameron and Thomas.”
The ambience of the Hollywood space will reflect a playful, design-forward aesthetic that Laughing Planet achieves by collaborating with local artists like Ace Troy, Dillon Turner and Stefan Ways. The Hollywood location will feature a 17- by 17-foot mural of Godzilla fighting genetically-modified agriculture, painted by Ways, and a colorful collection of re-purposed Josef Stalin busts, designed and decorated by local pop artist Troy – with a handful of “surprise” artists adding their contributions to the project.
The “UN-install Stalin” project was the brainchild of Greg Glover, Laughing Planet’s marketing director.
“The project got started when a friend of mine tagged me in an Instagram photo for an open call to artists to ‘UN-install Stalin,'” said Troy. “I volunteered to do one – but ended up with two, which grew into eight, which has now grown into a full dozen. Greg and Franz liked what I was doing – so I kept doing more. The busts came from Missing Link Toys on Mississippi, which is something that Franz used to be involved in.”
The Hollywood menu will offer the same selections as other Laughing Planet locations throughout the city, with a staple menu – updated twice a year with the restaurant’s greatest hits. There will also be seasonal specials with 100% locally-sourced, farm fresh ingredients and rotating weekly specials, featuring bold flavors and guest proteins. Beginning in May, the Hollywood store will feature eight signature cocktails – in addition to the beer and wine served at Laughing Planet’s other locations.
When the doors open in Hollywood, Dottie Swain will take the reins as manager.
“I personally hired Dottie away from Starbucks seven years ago and she has now managed two of our stores,” said Spielvogel. “We are very committed to promoting our employees from within. Dottie embodies what we do. She is kind, happy, positive and very hard working.”
“Laughing Planet is an exceptional value and a great experience,” said Spielvogel. “I don’t mean value as in cheap, I mean value in the sense that you get more than you expect – service, quality, variety, flexibility – all while being a fun place to visit. We strive to be at the intersection of liberal arts and food. We go to great pains to source great ingredients. We are proud to be voted by our employees as one of the top companies to work for in Oregon. We value the communities where we are located and support local schools and business associations.”
“I never thought I would be in the restaurant and community building business,” said Spielvogel, who got his start working at Deux Gros Nez in Reno, Nevada while going to college. “I’ve come full circle. My boss at Deux Gros Nez, Tim Healion, now works with me growing our Reno operation.”
For more information on Laughing Planet, or to check out a menu, visit www.laughingplanetcafe.com.