As Eater reports, Little Pine shut down in-house dining on March 15 in accordance with city orders. The site notes that multiple employees claim the artist had been largely unresponsive to questions about employment and employee health care benefits since the closure, only following up in a private email sent April 14 following social media backlash.
Eater adds that employees were only informed this week that Little Pine had no plans to offer takeout and delivery, and that health care coverage for full-time employees had been cancelled. As one former employee told the site, "I am coverage-less in the middle of a global pandemic, because my health care has been canceled by a multimillionaire."
A statement on the social media backlash was shared by Little Pine through Instagram earlier this week (April 13). The statement reads in part, "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."
The statement continued: "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."
The restaurant's account, which employees told Eater Moby runs himself, also disabled comments on its posts after removing a number of criticisms. The site points out one removed comment read, "I'm not a stranger. I've worked at Little Pine since it opened and helped to build the restaurant to what it was. Moby absolutely left us all high and dry."
Eater points out that since Little Pine employed under 50 staff members, the establishment is not legally required to pay said sick leave under the new federal emergency coronavirus relief law passed by the United States last month.
Moby's response email to employees reads, in part, "I'm writing to apologize...Around the time of the little pine shutdown I was dealing with quite a lot of personal issues, and I realize that my emails...didn't address your concerns, or express my profound gratitude for the remarkable work you all have done."
The email adds that Moby would no longer be "able to subsidize [Little Pine] moving forward," though he did not specifically say that the restaurant would close permanently.
When asked by Eater about the possibility of a permanent closure yesterday (April 15), representatives for Moby provided the following statement:
Like so many restaurants around the world, little pine has been 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 shut down 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.
Moby will release new album All Visible Objects next month. Later this month, he'll get in on some livestreaming to celebrate Earth Day.
from an employee that was blocked after commenting pic.twitter.com/Fb0Ik59tyr— cødy (@CodyPalm) April 13, 2020
Lately we have been receiving a lot of very hostile comments about the way in which Little Pine was put on hiatus. Allow us to clarify: little pine, like most restaurants during this crisis, is in serious financial trouble. 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. Honestly, after desperately trying to do the right thing and going seriously into debt, the vicious hostility makes us want to just shut the restaurant down. I guess somehow naïvely we thought that in this time of crisis people would stop being hateful and judgemental, but unfortunately we were wrong.