A new brunch-focused restaurant is heading for Hayes Valley. Laguna is scheduled to open in mid-December in the recently vacated Meatball Bar space at 602 Hayes Street, serving a host of morning favorites, buttery pies, and burgers for dinner.
It’s the first project for partners Brian Stafford and David Kleinberg. Stafford works in the pharmaceutical industry but has been a silent partner at various San Francisco restaurants for the past 12 years. Kleinberg, meanwhile, has more than 20 years of restaurant experience in a variety of front and back of house roles, including stints at Michael Mina, Chez Maman, and Doppio Zero. He’ll take the lead at Laguna for day-to-day operations and train the kitchen staff.
Stafford has been wanting to open a brunch restaurant for many years (“I’ve always loved breakfast and brunch and food in general, long before the “foodie” term came about,” he says), and met Kleinberg while dining at Mission Beach Cafe about eight years ago. They’ve been slowly plotting a restaurant ever since.
Looking around the San Francisco brunch scene, Stafford wishes he saw more creativity and less “kind of half-assed” places. He’s hoping Laguna rises above the standard. “I’d like our stuff to be on par with Nopa and Outerlands,” he says.
While the menu is still being finalized, Stafford is excited to serve a proper German-style pancake alongside Kleinberg’s pies. (“His crusts are some of the best I’ve had,” Stafford says. “It’s almost croissant-like, really buttery and flaky.”) They’re also toying with the idea of a brunch tasting menu, which would certainly set it apart from other bacon- and eggs-focused spots. But of course, there will also be staples like French toast, scrambled eggs, potatoes, and a tofu scramble for vegans. Brunch will be available daily until 3 p.m. or so, and then Laguna will segue into dinner, which will see burgers, sandwiches, salads, soups, and small plates. Mimosas, beer, and wine will all be flowing.
Since the Meatball Bar was only open for several months, the Laguna team is inheriting nearly brand new equipment with the 1,900-square-foot space. They’re doing some minimal renovations, like extending the bar slightly and adding a banquette. Otherwise, the changes will be purely cosmetic. “I wanted to bring in some warmth, a little bit of color, and some plants — make it a little bit more comfortable,” says Stafford.
Stay tuned for more details as the opening gets closer.