Aisha “Pinky” Cole is fast on her way to having the next big deal in fast food with her plant-based burger chain, Slutty Vegan. Vegans and meat-eaters alike stand outside the restaurant’s locations (Westview, Edgewood, Jonesboro, and now Duluth) for hours or follow the Big ‘Ol Slut food truck to get her saucily named burgers like the “One Night Stand,” “Sloppy Toppy,” “Fussy Hussy,” “Hollywood Hooker,” and “Super Slut.”
She’s also got a vegan cookbook on the way, a charitable mission to provide life insurance to Black men, and a new partnership with Varo Bank to help entrepreneurs launch and sustain their businesses. All this from a Baltimore kid who used resell the McDonald’s $1 menu for $2 to her classmates and rake in the cash by hosting teen dance parties. Hustle is the Clark Atlanta University graduate’s other nickname.
And, of course, we got her In the Mix playlist, and it’s full of choice cuts from Kendrick Lamar, Moneybagg Yo, Jill Scott, Erykah Badu, Meek Mill and more.
You just opened a new location of Slutty Vegan in Duluth, and another is coming to Athens. How do you choose where to go next?
I’m very strategic on how I open up Slutty Vegans. I like to choose food insecure areas and food deserts, areas that aren’t so attractive to developers, and help raise the community up. The Gwinnett and Athens locations do just that. It’s an opportunity to scale the business, and it shows more people are interested in vegan options. That’s what makes me the most excited.
Tell us about your new cookbook, “Eat Plants, B*tch.” How did you pick the recipes to include?
I partnered with Simon & Schuster to do my first cookbook, “Eat Plants, Bitch.” Yes, I said it! It’s a cookbook to help meat-eaters find recipes that are plant-based and cruelty free. There are so many people who are flexitarians, vegetarians, and meat-eaters that sometimes want to try plant-based options, but don’t necessarily want to go vegan. I took all the hassle and agenda out of it to create something for people who want to have healthier options that taste good, and you don’t have to compromise that good flavor.
When you’re not eating at Slutty Vegan, what are your other favorite places to eat in Atlanta – especially vegetarian and vegan?
My house! No, I’m kidding. There are so many vegan restaurants in Atlanta that are really, really good. Tassili’s Raw Reality Café has the best spinach wrap – they call it the Punany Wrap. I also love Bakaris Plant-Based Pizza, Chin Chin, and Soul Vegetarian. You’ll fall in love with these foods just like I did. And I’m so glad they’re growing just like Slutty Vegan.
The Pinky Cole Foundation is helping to empower entrepreneurs of color. Tell us about some of the success stories.
I started the Pinky Cole Foundation in 2019 as a way to help bridge the generational wealth gap. Since our founding, I’ve partnered with the Steve and Marjorie Harvey Foundation to provide lights for families, given out thousands of pounds of fruits and vegetable to families in need, as well as thousands of coats. I paid the rent for local businesses during the pandemic so they didn’t have to close their doors. When Rayshard Brooks was murdered in the Wendy’s parking lot, I partnered with another local business owner to provide life insurance for the family, provided scholarships for the family, and bought them a new car. I’ve paid the balances of 30 Clark Atlanta University students so they can walk across the stage. We’ve given cars, scholarships and so many other resources through the foundation. That is worth so much more to me than money in the bank. It gives me great joy and pride that I can utilize my resources to help an eco-system of people to be better. You can find out more at pinkygivesback.com.
Can you tell us about your plan to provide life insurance to Black men in Atlanta?
I’ve partnered with Derrick Hayes of Big Dave’s Cheesesteaks to provide every single Black man in Atlanta with life insurance they don’t have to pay for. They get to pick their beneficiary and their policy. We did this to make sure Black men have the tools to know about financial literacy and mental health.
Tell us about the partnership with Varo Bank.
As part of my December Days of Giving, Varo is making a donation to help 40 Atlanta entrepreneurs launch and sustain their small businesses. In January, we’re launching a community-based sweepstakes to provide opportunities for greater financial and professional empowerment. Prizes include one year of mentorship from me for an entrepreneur or professional, a year of financial coaching from Varo’s personal finance advocate and best-selling author Kevin L. Matthews II, plus additional cash prizes.
What’s your new year’s resolution?
To continue helping people learn about financial literacy. I plan on providing more job opportunities in Atlanta and beyond, more work with Varo. More of what I’ve been doing but turned up to a thousand. Because 2022 is the year that Slutty Vegan and Pinky Cole are going to become household names.