Big Mood, the vegan eatery in Elmwood Village popular among UB students, announced on Instagram that it would close its doors until further notice on Nov. 20 following a break-in. A source familiar with Big Mood confirmed that the plant-based restaurant is permanently closed.
Jason Monterrosa, a Big Mood employee, says the restaurant is permanently closed following the break-in and continuing issues with staffing and hours. He says he suspects many customers were put off by the oft-changing hours of operation.
“In the middle of September [Big Mood] laid off all but two people on staff so at that point I was working front and back of house,” Monterrosa said. “I was basically doing everything.”
“A lot of people were put off that we changed our hours so often, people were confused when they could come in or not.”
Big Mood is joining several local plant-based eateries like Grindhaus Cafe and FryBaby Donuts in shutting its doors. Both eateries closed their doors in 2021, with Grindhaus closing on Nov. 3.
Big Mood and other plant-based eateries are casualties of COVID-19-related difficulties and join the over 25 restaurants that have closed in Buffalo since 2020.
Monterrosa, a junior UB Teach major and Spectrum staff writer, says Big Mood had been struggling for a while and had suffered from three separate burglaries. Big Mood publicly acknowledged these issues on its Instagram. Monterrosa added that he never met the owners of Big Mood, only his managers, and was disappointed because he had left his previous higher-paying job to work at the joint.
“[Big Mood] was a job that I always wanted — working at a vegan kitchen,” Monterrosa said. “Then the layoffs happened. I sort of saw it coming but even when it did happen after [the most recent] break-in, I was really upset because it was a job I saw myself working at until I graduated.”
UB Vegan Club president Marissa D’Antoni was sad to hear that Big Mood is permanently closed.
“Wow, that sucks,” D’Antoni said. “The food was really good, I just couldn’t go often because I don’t have a car.”
Corin Carpenter, a junior Spanish education major, says she enjoyed Big Mood’s food and atmosphere.
“I always enjoyed their food,” Carpenter said. “It was fun to eat food that looked like meat but wasn’t. They had cool options and every time I went there the people I was with always found something they liked, even if they weren’t vegan. Also, I loved the vibe of the back patio and the art incorporated everywhere.”
Reflecting on his experiences at Big Mood, Monterrosa said the restaurant industry is challenging for employees.
“My manager would have to buy stuff from Wegmans or [the] shop right down the street,” Monterrosa said. “If it wasn’t for those actions, we wouldn’t have been able to open for that week. Managers would pay for that with their own money out of their pocket and they never got compensated for either… it really speaks to the issues in the service industry in general.”
Julie Frey is an assistant news/features editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Julie Frey is an assistant news/features editor for The Spectrum.