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Aisha “Pinky” Cole is the founder and CEO of Slutty Vegan ATL. She was born to Jamaican immigrant parents in Baltimore. After attending Clark Atlanta University she moved to LA and landed a job in the TV industry. Her career brought her to NYC, where she opened a Jamaican restaurant called “Pinky’s” in 2014. The restaurant burned down from a grease fire which left Pinky broke. She bounced back by landing a job on the OWN network before coming up the idea for Slutty Vegan in 2018.
“In July 2018, I was inspired to create a vegan restaurant due to my own cravings for vegan junk food. Honestly I just wanted some really good vegan comfort food. I didn’t realize I was about to start a vegan revolution. I never expected to have such a big title, but the universe works in such mysterious ways and I am grateful for that.
Slutty Vegan, in my mind, is someone who eats vegan but enjoys junk food. So I came up with the name Slutty Vegan as a provocative hook. The name came to me one evening like a light bulb and it stuck!” – Pinky Cole
The Slutty Vegan, a plant-based burger joint in Atlanta’s West End, opened to immediate acclaim in the summer of 2018. The restaurant instantly became a national phenomenon and celebrity hotspot. She landed the fervor of its fans exceeding what Pinky had expected. The risqué fun doesn't stop with just the name. If you've ever been to a Slutty Vegan restaurant, then you will understand. But in case you haven't, make sure your wife isn't around when you are phoning in your order.
Popular menu items include that “One Night Stand”, the “Sloppy Toppy” and who can live without a good ol' fashioned “Side Heaux”? Pinky recounts one particular couple ordering inside the restaurant. “I remember one time when a woman was talking about ordering a ‘Ménage à Trois' burger, and her husband chimed in, ‘I want a ménage trois too.'” said Pinky. “The dead stare the woman gave to her husband let us know that Slutty Vegan was not the best place for feuding couples!”
Among its fans are a roster of Black celebrities. These include Jermaine Dupri, Lil Baby, Snoop Dogg, Tyler Perry and Tiffany Haddish. All of which have been declared “sluttified” on the Slutty Vegan Instagram account, which is inching close to a half-million followers. Pinky is riding a new surge of the Black vegan movement, fed by chefs and stars who have given up eating animal products for environmental, health and humane reasons. In addition, it is a way to embrace traditional African diets and push back against Southern foods with links to slavery, like pigs’ feet and chit'lins.
Pinky's latest win comes in the form of collaboration. A business move we've seen in the last few months has been partnering with other known brands to help build your own. We have see it with Jay-Z and his moves with LVMH and Square. We have also seen it with Swizz Beatz and Timbaland partnering with Triller. And we can't forget that Kanye's partnership with The Gap could possibly make him the richest Black man ever. And now, we have Slutty Vegan teaming up with Shake Shack.
Earlier this month Shake Shack unveiled the “SluttyShack” which is a collaborative effort between the two companies. The inspiration came from Chef Mimi, a chef at Slutty Vegan. It is a sandwich that fans of both franchises can love. The SluttyShack is a Shake Shack veggie patty topped with Pinky’s secret Slut Dust, lemon ginger kale, caramelized onions, vegan ranch and vegan mayo on Slutty Vegan’s signature toasted Hawaiian bun. The burger, which is 100 percent vegan, debuted at Shake Shack Old Fourth Ward in Atlanta April 8th. The burger can be ordered in person, or via the Shake Shack app and online for pickup.
In addition to expanding her brand, Pinky is also giving back. Proceeds from burger sales will be donated to Giving Kitchen in Atlanta. Giving Kitchen is a crisis relief organization for people in the food and beverage industry. “Our mission isn’t to tell people to go vegan. But rather, to inspire guests to open up horizons with something new and different,” Cole said. And partnering with Shake Shack allows Pinky to further this mission.
Her giving back doesn't stop there. She has also founded The Pinky Cole Foundation, to support community building and social justice initiatives along with education in communities of color. In the last year, her non-profit offered jobs and college scholarships to about 30 current or former juvenile offenders and the rent of local Atlanta businesses so that they could stay afloat during the pandemic. Her organization also gifted a car, college scholarships, and life insurance policies to the widow and kids of 27-year-old Rayshard Brooks after an Atlanta police officer shot him in June.
“And here we are, two years later: I have one of the hottest concepts in the country. I’m thriving in a pandemic. I’ve been able to help my community in which I serve and give people hope that you can really create a business and it could be bigger than you’ve ever imagined.”
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