Slutty Vegan: Changing the World with Heartwarming Vegan Food

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Sex sells. This is what Pinky Cole learned while working as a television producer. She brought that mentality to her first restaurant, Slutty Vegan, which opened three years ago in Atlanta.

“What I learned from working on TV is to catch people and meet them where they are. You have to entertain people, give them something to talk about,” Cole said of the decision to give his brand a provocative nickname.

The vegan comfort food menu follows this pattern, as many of the more popular menu items have risky names, like Menage a Trois and Sloppy Toffee. But nothing in the concept is sexual.

“It’s just an engine to educate you and get you excited about the brand and make you ask questions, even if it evokes a feeling that makes you upset, frustrated, confused,” Cole said. “Now I can explain it to you correctly, and this is how I make people like it [the food]. “

Names like these make the vegan element a secondary thought when eating at Slutty Vegan, which Cole is aiming for. As one of the growing number of plant-based chains trying to grow nationwide, Cole was looking for a way to entice flexitarians and meat eaters with messy foods and interesting names.

With three locations open this year, 10 units next year, and a fundraising round soon to be announced, Slutty Vegan is bringing its heartwarming vegan food to cities across the country.

And what better place to test that than the South?

“It feels good to know that the person who eats ham shanks and pork ribs will be open to not only trying Slutty Vegan, but loving it,” Cole said. “It makes me feel good because I know that I am walking in my goal and that I am doing something right.”

Cole is part of a new generation of restaurant chefs speaking out on societal changes.

“If I had done this for money, I would never have talked about a lot of the things that happened in the last year, but I did it because, guess what, it’s bigger than me, “Cole said of speaking out during the Black Lives Matter protests and getting involved in elections and voting rights.

Other entrepreneurs will turn to neutrality for fear of isolating guests or financial partners, but Cole has attracted more fans (and press) by being herself and standing up for what she believes in as part of. the business platform.

“As a responsible business owner and representative of a class of people, it is my responsibility to be socially responsible and stand up for my people,” Cole said.

Slutty Vegan might be small today, but thanks to ghost kitchens and a partnership with Shake Shack, it has spread nationally and internationally. On two occasions in the past year, Slutty Vegan has teamed up with Shake Shack to design a plant-based burger for a day only in select locations.

The SluttyShack combined the new Shake Shack veggie patty with Cole’s ‘Slut Dust’ secret, lemon ginger kale, caramelized onions, vegan ranch and vegan mayonnaise on Slutty’s signature toasted Hawaiian bun. Vegan. It sold for $ 8.49 and was one of Shake Shack’s most popular collaborations to date.

Part of Cole’s expansion strategy is to help underserved communities and dwellers in food deserts find foods that are healthier, still heartwarming, and fun.

“[At Slutty Vegan] we show you a good time. We have music. We dance with you, ”she said. “And then the moment you get your food, psychologically, something went off in your mind that said, ‘Wow, I’ve never been to a place of business owned by black people, women, men. minorities who deliver this exemplary experience, who will provide the ultimate customer service, and I can be myself ”.

This strategy includes hiring people in these high unemployment areas and buying the buildings that Slutty Vegan is taking over to increase property values ​​in the area. It’s a multi-pronged approach that Cole has worked with his team to perfect as they prepare for expansion over the next several years.

“It’s bigger than burgers and fries, it’s really about revolutionizing a movement and showing people that you can be in whatever industry you’re in, and that you can protest any and all. possible ways as long as you make changes, ”Cole said.

This is also the reason why Cole started the Pinky Cole Foundation.

“I wanted one to bridge the generational wealth gap and show people that you can be the East Baltimore girl with Jamaican roots and be whatever you want to be,” she said. “You can really stand up for what you believe in and not be afraid of the backlash people are going to give you.”

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