Likely if you’re a resident of Los Angeles, fan of vegan food, and/or follower of electronic music, you’ve heard by now that musician, DJ, animal rights activist, and outspoken vegan, Moby, is opening his long-awaited new restaurant Little Pine in Silver Lake tomorrow. We’ve been waiting with bated breath ourselves, so we asked Moby to take a few minutes in anticipation of tomorrow’s unveiling to tell us more about the work leading up to this point, how he hopes to impact the restaurant scene in Los Angeles, and how he wants Little Pine to make the vegan scene here even more mainstream and accepted.
raven + crow: Alright, first off, congratulations on Little Pine. I know back when we both lived in New York, you had a great little café—TeaNY, on the lower east side—but I’m sure that was a ton of work. What made you want to venture back into the restaurant world in your new LA digs?
Moby: opening and running restaurants is stressful and expensive, but ultimately really emotionally rewarding. walking into a space that i’ve designed and seeing people happily eating organic food is really, really satisfying.
That’s nice. I feel kind of the same way about opening MooShoes here. Though we rarely see people try to eat the shoes. So, Los Angeles is, thankfully, a virtual urban smorgasbord for vegans these days—we can’t throw Goldenberg’s Peanut Chew without hitting a vegan or vegan-friendly restaurant—what gap do you see Little Pine filling in the already dense vegan culinary landscape?
there are a lot of high-end vegan restaurants and a lot of punk rock vegan restaurants and a lot of new-hippie vegan restaurants but i don’t know of any other modern and inviting and neighborhood-y vegan restaurants that stay open until midnight 7 days a week.
No joke there. We were totally shocked at how little of LA is late night, minus the tourist-y/douche-y clubs. Why Silver Lake, though? I know it’s a hotspot, but I’ve talked to other restauranteurs in the city who think that the vegan scene’s totally saturated there as is and are looking elsewhere.
oh, because it’s where i live.
Fair enough. What made you chose that spot? It’s a great area, but I know you’re also right across from an elementary school and you’ve had more than your fair share of pushback from the community on the late nights + alcohol, respectively.
odd questions, almost contentious, are you sure you’re in support of what we’re doing?
Contentious‽ We’re just asking the hard-hitting questions the LA Times + TMZ are afraid to ask.
basically: this is where the building happened to be. i wanted to buy a restaurant building and restaurant buildings for sale are rarer than unicorns. unless you’re the army corps of engineers it’s not really feasible to buy a building and pick it up and move it somewhere.
I always wanted to buy a house in rural southern Virginia and fly it to an empty lot in Brooklyn. Never worked out. It sounds like you won the neighborhood over though—Little Pine’s open late and will have a bar.
7:30 a.m – midnight 7 days a week.
Why was that important to you?
because some people wake up early and some people stay up late and i really like the idea of accommodating people regardless of their schedule. also it’s exasperating to get out of a movie at 9:30 and 9:45 and making a panicked dash to a restaurant that’s just closed.
That’s why we stick to the Arclight next to the Veggie Grill. And the liquor license—I know you personally abstain; why was that aspect of Little Pine worth fighting for in your mind?
most of my friends like to drink the occasional glass of wine or beer, and i wanted a place where they’d feel welcome. also i like the idea of veganism becoming normal, which it already is. 28 years ago (when i became vegan) you could only find vegan food in dusty restaurants where they served cold kukicha. for veganism to become the new norm, it needs to be as normal as other restaurants.
That’s a great point. Also, I feel like having one of the few places open that late on a regular basis be vegan is going to expose animal-friendly eating to a crowd that might not be exposed to that as much normally. Well-done. We were also really impressed that you’re using 100% organic ingredients, not a lot of places can pull that off. Did that shape your menu at all? What you could and couldn’t do or even wanted to do?
pretty much everything we’ve tried to find we’ve been able to find, which says a lot about trying to have an organic restaurant in l.a. opening a 100% organic restaurant in oklahoma might be more challenging…and if we can’t find something that’s organic we just keep looking until we find it.
Face, Oklahoma. And are you all going to take reservations or walk-ins only?
we’ll take reservations and also do walk in. as we’re open from 7:30 a.m – midnight there will be lots of times during the day when the restaurant will be quite calm(like 3pm, i’m guessing). but at night we’ll take reservations for 50% of the tables.
Do you think you’ll be there much yourself or are you leaving most of the day-to-day to the team you’ve now got in place?
as opening a vegan restaurant is expensive and stressful it wouldn’t make sense to do the hard work of getting it open and then not hang out there. i plan on being there at least once or twice a day.
Nice. Finally, where does the name come from?
i’m little and i like pine trees.
As mention, Little Pine opens its doors for the first time tomorrow and stays open every day from 730AM to midnight…we’re guessing it closes for the occasional holiday. Reservations + contact, 323-741-8148.
Feature photo, Michael Buckner/WWD; interior/exterior shots courtesy of Moby; food photos by Melissa Danis.