Farewell, Little Pine

Imagine eating vegan food where meat is not only being avoided, but your meal saves lives as well.

A restaurant in the Silver Lake area of Los Angeles was created to serve both purposes. 

Vegan restaurant Little Pine was not only fully vegan and plant-based, but also donated proceeds directly to foundations that support animals. 

In the wake of COVID-19, Little Pine is closing. It is not known if it will ever reopen, according to Charles. 

“The employees, including myself thought it would be a temporary furlough, however, after a month, the owner, Moby, terminated the entire staff, and still has given no information if Little Pine will ever re-open,” Charles said. “In times like these, one gets to see someone’s true nature – someone’s true character and actions / inactions speak volumes about someone’s moral compass.”

Leslie Charles, the manager at Little Pine for almost five years, said that supporting animals in every facet is an essential part in the expansion of vegan restaurants throughout Los Angeles.

 “I feel the most valuable experience in working for an establishment that cares so greatly for animals, is not only knowing the work you’re doing matters, but also the like-minded people you get to meet,” Charles said. “I think veganism affects the animals and the earth unlike any other movement out there. Veganism is one of the only true ways of not only saving our planet, but saving animals as well.”

Little Pine was established in 2015 on a mission to provide a vegan haven for people in Los Angeles. Their website states that 100% of their profits go to animal rights organizations.

Charles said that slaughtering animals to benefit humans does not always have to be the way of life. 

“The proof is in research and facts,” Charles said. “People have just been slow to catch up with that information, but they are finally listening.” 

Lou Oates has been the executive chef at Little Pine since 2017 and has been vegan for the last 15 years.

“We will lead happier, healthier lives that rely less on pharmaceuticals to regulate our body and have a planet hopefully for many years to come rather than face extinction,” Oates said. “I started to acknowledge that when I consumed animal products, not only was I harming myself, but I was also also making a choice that was negatively impacting the planet and the welfare of animals across the globe.”

Little Pine has donated to six charities that defend animal rights:

  • Physicians Committee, which focuses on a plant-based diet. 
  • The Good Food Institute, which promotes plant-based alternatives to meat, dairy, eggs and cultivated meat. 
  • The Mercy for Animals, which has a mission to “prevent cruelty to farmed animals and promote compassionate food choices and policies,” according to their website. 
  • Direct Action Everywhere, which uses non-violent direct action tactics to further their cause, such as open rescue of animals from factory farms. 
  • Animal Equality, a team of committed and passionate advocates dedicated to creating a more compassionate world for animals. 
  • The Humane League, an international nonprofit organization that works to end the abuse of animals raised for food through institutional and individual change, including online advertising, Meatless Monday campaigns and corporate outreach.

Little Pine has also welcomed animals to the mix of patrons that visit their restaurant. 

“Tons of animals would come into dine at Little Pine, which was one of the perks of working there,” Charles said. “We of course would allow service animals to dine inside with their owners per regulation, but we also had a patio that accommodated whatever creature great or small came to dine with us.” 

Little Pine’s Instagram page @littlepinerestaurant shows an assortment of different animals dining at their restaurant. 

“The exotic pets that came into Little Pine I would say were more companion animals than pets,” Charles said.” But for exotic animals, I would say opossums, pigs, a goat one time and of course we had my ‘son’ Chip, who was the squirrel who lived on the property and visited us daily, demanded nuts of all kinds, sat in our office chair, ran through my hair and played with toys.”

Charles said that Little Pine was not offering takeout, curbside pickup or using mobile applications such as Postmates or Grubhub to deliver food.

David Busse is the president of Yottability, an information technology company based in Woodland Hills. Busse has a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from California State University, Northridge. 

Busse said in a phone interview that companies must update their practices when business environments change.

“You need to adapt or you’re going to be left behind,” Busse said. “Technology, if it’s used properly, is only going to help whoever’s using it. As time goes on, technology’s more prominent in everything we do. My advice to any business is to make sure you understand the technology aspect and understand the importance of the technology aspect.”

While it was open, Little Pine was a safe space for customers who are plant-based and those who wanted to experience something new and beneficial to animals. 

Oates said that going vegan not only benefits the planet but also all of the animals in it.

“If we stop eating animal products, we immediately make a huge impact on carbon emissions, therefore ensuring the longevity on the planet,” Oates said. “Take each day as it comes and try to make a more conscious decision at every meal. Research as much as you can and find some recipes that you like the sound of to try at home. It is all about experimenting, being brave and trusting yourself.”