CEO DailyCFO DailyBroadsheetData SheetTerm Sheet

Slutty Vegan founder Pinky Cole wants her $100-million chain to rival Burger King

November 30, 2022, 1:40 PM UTC

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Citi CEO Jane Fraser shares why empathy is a competitive advantage for the bank; the pandemic’s impact on motherhood hit poor women harder than their rich peers; and Pinky Cole has big ambitions for Slutty Vegan.

Getting slutty Growing up in Baltimore, Pinky Cole looked up to those who had found success in music and entertainment. That reverence led her to a career as a television producer in Atlanta—until she was laid off. Cole reflected on her career choice and swiftly realized that the entertainment industry shouldn’t have a monopoly on who receives acclaim and attention. 

Four years ago, she founded the Atlanta-based restaurant chain Slutty Vegan, heralded for its burgers and fries, nondidactic approach to the vegan diet, and enthusiastic point of view. The chain was valued at $100 million earlier this year after a $25 million investment from a group that included Union Square Hospitality and Shake Shack’s Danny Meyer. “Once upon a time, it was probably not that cool to be a restaurateur,” Cole says. “But now it’s cool to be a restaurateur. It’s cool to be an entrepreneur, have a business, and be scaling it.” 

And Cole is indeed scaling. Slutty Vegan opened its eighth location earlier this fall in Brooklyn, its first outside the South (most are in Georgia). The chain plans to open a Harlem location soon. “I want Slutty Vegan to be a household name just like Burger King, McDonald’s, and Chick-fil-A,” Cole says.

Pinky Cole, Founder of Slutty Vegan
Pinky Cole, CEO and founder of the restaurant Slutty Vegan.
Courtesy of Pinky Cole

With backing from some of the top names in the restaurant industry, Cole is in strategizing mode, recently pivoting from a plan to open a location in each major market to launching multiple restaurants in particularly strong markets. The shift allows the chain to save on food costs by ordering ingredients for multiple storefronts to one city, rather than across the country.

Cole says the best fit for a Slutty Vegan location is in neighborhoods that are either food deserts, vegan food deserts, or “an area in the middle of gentrification,” hence the move to Brooklyn and Harlem selections. The ideal customer in those areas is “a graduate or college student who has a good career but still likes to be ratchet on the weekend,” she adds. “They can turn it on and be professional in a board meeting but still like to get loose and have fun with their friends.”

That’s partly because of Slutty Vegan’s branding. Workers yell out that customers are getting “sluttified” and sell merch that says “Big Slut Energy.”

Cole can’t quite pinpoint what makes the restaurant successful. Is it her or the chain’s atmosphere? “Some days, I feel like people love Slutty Vegan because they love me. But some days, I think maybe it’s that I’m a community-based business,” she says. Either way, she credits the city of Atlanta for much of the chain’s success. “There is a mecca of successful, African American, wealthy individuals who live in the city and are willing to support someone who is moving and shaking,” she says.

Cole, whose given name is Aisha (Pinky is a nickname), is simultaneously working to build her personal brand. Earlier this month, she published a cookbook called Eat Plants, B*tch and hopes to eventually have at least three Slutty Vegan locations in each U.S. state.  

“We’re in your face, raunchy, and sophisticated at the same time,” she says. “I’m creating opportunities for myself and my company.” 

Emma Hinchliffe

The Broadsheet is Fortune’s newsletter for and about the world’s most powerful women. Today’s edition was curated by Paige McGlauflin. Subscribe here.


Empathy’s advantage Citi CEO Jane Fraser believes culture and inclusion are key to turning the bank around. “This isn’t about being nice. This gives you competitive edge,” she told Fortune CEO Alan Murray and senior editor Ellen McGirt. Fortune 

Comeback kid In a recent interview with Fortune’s Susie Gharib, Abercrombie CEO Fran Horowitz describes how she transformed the once-declining fashion retailer by reinventing its brands and diversifying its associates, consumer base, and size ranges. Fortune

Inequality in motherhood Women without advanced degrees and higher-paying jobs were pushed out of the workforce and experienced a slower recovery than their more privileged peers. The Atlantic

Arrest warrant Angolan authorities are seeking the arrest of Isabel dos Santos, the daughter of Angola’s former president and previously the richest woman in Africa, alleging she enriched herself with state resources. The country’s attorney general said authorities failed to locate dos Santos or receive a response from her or her lawyers to requests for questioning. Dos Santos claims she did not receive any notice of her arrest. New York Times

MOVERS AND SHAKERS Baby gear rental startup Loop named former Glossier CMO Ali Weiss CEO. Alcoholic beverage company Beam Suntory promoted Jessica Spence to president of North America, effective Jan. 1.


Texas showdown A Texas state representative filed a bill prohibiting tax cuts to businesses that assist employees in getting abortions outside the state. While it’s unclear how much support the proposal will receive in the state’s new legislative session starting in January, it follows recent clashes between lawmakers and businesses over abortion access in the state. Bloomberg

Equal coverage The Athletic plans to double its women’s sports coverage through a multiyear partnership with Google. The online sports outlet is posting job openings focusing on women’s sports and expanding related newsletters and podcasts. Axios

Full picture Government data may be undercounting the number of men who left the workforce to assume caregiving responsibilities because the Census only tallies men in opposite-sex marriages who specifically say they’re no longer working to instead care for the family. A broader analysis by the Pew Research Center found that dads accounted for 18% of all stay-at-home parents in 2021, compared with the 5% tallied by the Census this year. Bloomberg


Shannon Abloh is ready to talk New York Times

‘I was never ready for this’: How states limit teen access to abortion ProPublica

Uncut Tems: The rise and reign of queen of alté R&B Dazed


“I’ll take a break when I’m dead…When I start sitting, I feel like I’m not doing enough or I’m giving somebody else the opportunity to pass me.”

—Rapper Megan Thee Stallion, who became the first Black woman to appear on the cover of Forbes’s 30 Under 30 issue, on Monday 

This is the web version of The Broadsheet, a daily newsletter for and about the world’s most powerful women. Sign up to get it delivered free to your inbox.