Electronic musician and renowned animal rights activist Moby made waves in the food industry when he opened the doors to Little Pine, a vegan bistro, in the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles, California, in 2015.
Designed as a haven for vegan food lovers, this restaurant aimed to provide a compelling representation of veganism in an attractive setting. The restaurant was established not only to serve plant-based dishes but also to contribute to causes close to Moby’s heart, particularly animal rights.
Even with celebrity backing and a noble mission, operating a restaurant successfully is a complex endeavor. Little Pine’s sudden closure occurred despite the restaurant having celebrity backing and a mission centered around animal rights.
The Story Of Moby’s Little Pine
Little Pine, housed in an Art Deco-style building from the 1940s, was designed by interior designer Tatum Kendrick and featured chandeliers, artistic murals, and photographic works of nature, many of which were crafted by Moby himself. Speaking to LA Mag, the musician said the following about opening his own restaurant:
“I had a few restaurants in New York, and they were stressful and difficult but ultimately very emotionally satisfying. I found this amazing art deco building on Rowena and bought it, and decided to turn it into a restaurant, so I could support organic farming, veganism, community, architecture, design, and my desire to eat dinner after I get out of a movie.”
According to Moby, the restaurant, with its 58-seat capacity, was intended to be an extension of the neighborhood and community. He said that he had the aim of serving organic, vegan, Mediterranean-inspired dishes with Little Pine:
“I wanted the menu to be Mediterranean-inspired, so we’ve come up with a combination of the familiar (stuffed shells with pesto and marinara) and the unfamiliar (vegan cassoulet provencale). Mediterranean influences, meaning: French, Italian, Spanish, and a little bit North African.”
However, in 2020, Little Pine was thrust into an indefinite hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Why Is Little Pine Closed?
Little Pine’s closure was met with controversies as employees alleged Moby’s handling of the situation left them without healthcare benefits and left their questions and concerns unaddressed.
According to Digital Music News, the restaurant posted the following on their Instagram page:
“Lately, we have been receiving a lot of very hostile comments about the way in which Little Pine was put on hiatus… We have tried to do the right thing, and paid our managers and paid our employees and paid our vendors and paid our insurance, etc., and we are, again, like most restaurants, seriously in debt. All we ever wanted was to be a good vegan restaurant and serve our community and generate money for the animal rights nonprofits we love. And now not only have we been forced to shut down, but we are on the verge of bankruptcy while being viciously attacked by countless strangers.“
One of the employees wrote this as a comment, but it was removed shortly after:
“I’m not a stranger. I’ve worked at Little Pine since it opened and helped to build the restaurant into what it was. Moby absolutely left us all high and dry.“
As reported by Eater, Moby acknowledged that the shutdown could have been handled better and expressed remorse for his communication lapse. At the same time, he noted that the financial crisis at that point meant he could no longer subsidize Little Pine:
“Like so many restaurants around the world, Little Pine has been forced to shut down in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. There’s no easy way to close a business, and I know that a lot of our former staff are very understandably angry and upset. But in closing Little Pine, I absolutely made sure to pay all employee and management salaries and bonuses, vendor costs and taxes, and utilities out of pocket. Everything about this global crisis is unprecedented, and I’m sure I could have handled our shutdown better. I have so much respect and appreciation for the people who’ve worked at Little Pine, and I truly apologize for the pain this process has caused.”
In spite of the issues, the restaurant reopened later in 2020, with Moby as a silent partner and a group of local plant-based investors at the helm.
Reopening Of Little Pine And Rebrand Rumors
Little Pine’s revival was short-lived, as the restaurant permanently shut its doors in the fall of 2022. Although Eater reports there were rumors circulating about a potential wine-focused rebrand for the Rowena Avenue space, no confirmation has been made.
Over its seven-year tenure, Little Pine received recognition from several organizations, including being named one of the top 20 vegan restaurants in the United States by Food Network and being awarded Restaurant of the Year by VegNews in 2016. The menu at Moby’s restaurant featured items such as stuffed pasta shells, panko-crusted piccata, and Parmesan spinach crêpe, in addition to a selection of organic wine, beers, and coffee.