After dabbling in the dining world with his vegetarian cafe Teany on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, singer-songwriter Moby debuted Little Pine vegan restaurant in his neighborhood of Silver Lake last week.
“In one fell swoop, it’s a way of satisfying a lot of my disparate interests,” Moby says of the comfy 60-seat spot. “So I can take my interest in organic food, in community, in architecture and design, in veganism, and combine them all in one place.”
The location is one he was grateful to happen upon. “It’s very rare that a building comes up for sale that can be turned into a restaurant,” he explains. “This space came up, and it was only about a mile away from my house, and it’s architecturally a really odd, idiosyncratic, fascinating building, so it ticked all those boxes.”
He enlisted design firm Studio Hus to help create an “unpretentious, Scandinavian mid-century modern aesthetic,” or what he envisioned as channeling a modern chalet in the north of Sweden. To designer Tatum Kendrick, this meant painted wood tiles, banquettes with assorted print pillows, custom brass light fixtures and a color palette of greens, beiges and white. “Moby loves mid-century modern, but we wanted to warm it up with some eclectic touches that harken back to a welcoming lodge you’d find in the mountains,” Kendrick says.
Moby’s own black-and-white photographs line the walls, and a front retail space offers goods that he’d either want to have in his home, or give as presents. “It’s everything from loose leaf tea, to naturally scented candles, and mid-century weird sculpture, and books by friends of mine who are artists,” he notes. “It’s sort of eclectic.”
Another element that reflects his own predilections is the food — which is 100% organic (like in his own kitchen) and which he describes as “vegan food that would hopefully appeal to even the most militant non-vegan.” A tomato-based vegan Cassoulet similar to one he had in Paris is a favorite on the menu, and the spot will be open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, encouraging local patrons to recurrently pop in. “I really liked the idea of a restaurant that feels like an effortless extension of the community,” Moby says.
Music is also something the restaurateur will carefully be curating. “I have a list of ‘no’s’ when it comes to the music,” Moby explains. “The first ‘no’ is that the music will never be louder than a conversation — because I have this profound loathing for restaurants with loud music. Maybe if I drank and did a lot of drugs, loud restaurants would make sense to me, but I go to a restaurant because I want to have a conversation.”
His second rule? “We won’t play any music that you would hear in a clothing store or a shopping mall. No top 40s, no loud EDM, no top 40 hip-hop, no metal. Like, it’s basically David Bowie and Neil Young and Massive Attack and Bon Iver and James Blake and Joni Mitchell.”
He also won’t be playing his own music. “I’ve designed a place that I want to hang out in, but I don’t want it to be a sort of celebrity-driven ego vehicle,” he says. “Nothing would make me happier than for someone to come in and not even know that I’m involved with it.”
The place where interested fans can learn more about Moby’s life is in his upcoming May memoir “Porcelain,” which explores 10 years of his life, from 1989-1999.
“I was homeless, I was squatting in an abandoned factory and making around $5,000 a year, and trying to get a record deal,” he recalls. “I was also a sober Christian at the time, and then I got a record deal, got very involved in the music world. In 1995, I started drinking again, went off the deep end with that, lost my record deal, my mom died of cancer, put out an album that failed miserably. So the book ends at this very low point, right before my album ‘Play’ came out.”
He notes that fans reading will however intuit that when the album “Play” came out, it went on to sell over 10 million copies, and that the book’s end actually marked a new beginning.
“So I thought my career was over,” he says, “and it went in a very different direction.”