Athens, GA

Black-owned vegan eatery raises $25M in funds: 25 new locations coming after grand opening in Athens

Carla St. Louis

The Slutty Vegan Brand continues to grow its restaurants with 25 new locations slated for opening in 2023 after a packed grand opening in Athens.

Owned by CEO Aisha “Pinky” Cole, the eatery with the brazen namesake, opened its fifth location in Athens on May 14. Customers waited outside in a line that wrapped around the building to feast on Atlanta's favorite meatless burger.

Famous for leaving patrons “slutified”--a term that’s used for anyone who has experienced their delicious, plant-based, meatless burgers slathered in slut sauce like Sloppy Toppy, Fussy Hussy, Menage a Trois, or One Night Stand. The four year old brand's menu also offers plant-based chicken sandwiches and sides. In the short years she's been in business, Cole's burgers have garnered the attention of celebrities such as Lil Baby, Steve Harvey, Tiffany Haddish, Big Boi, Usher, Snoop Dogg, Tyler Perry, and Porsha Williams. Slutty Vegan Brand has a five-star ranking on Google with over 23,000 positive reviews.

After a $100 million valuation, Cole announced plans for locations in Columbus, Harlem, Brooklyn, Baltimore, and Birmingham.

In an exclusive interview with Forbes, she says fans can expect to see more from Slutty Vegan since her goal is “to build a billion-dollar brand.” That vision translates into seeing Slutty Vegan food products like dips, kettle chips, and CBD gummies on the shelves of your local Target or grocry stores.

The good news comes fresh off of a round of successful series A funding where Cole raised $25 million. She plans to use the investment to fund Slutty Vegan's brick-and-mortar deals and altruistic goals.

Case-in-point, Cole gave limited liability company (LLC) certificates to the graduating class of 2022 at Clark Atlanta University on May 14. Cole, the youngest speaker ever at her alma mater, made the annoucement during the commencement ceremony. The university partnered with Varo Bank to make the gift possible. According to 11Alive, Cole says it cost about $400,000.

Slutty Vegan brand has done the unexpected--tapped into a market of beef eating consumers who will also eat a vegan burger (if it's tasty enough). According to Future Market Insights, the plant based burger market has a $2.7 billion valuation. It's popularity is rooted in the fast food industry that's adopting it and driving sales. After COVID-19 dealt a major blow to the meat supply chain, food giants and startups began looking for another source of protein, finding that in plant-based meat alternatives, says CB Insights. Brands such as Slutty Vegan are disrupting a $2.7 trillion global meat market at a surprising rate--making investors take notice.

https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=0qLt5k_0ffaSOzP00
Aisha "Pinky" Cole, the CEO of Slutty Vegan, a restaurant brand that focuses on plant-based food options.Slutty Vegan

Cole's lead investors are two men who bring different expertise and insight to her brand. Richelieu Dennis, the founder of New Voices Fund and Sundial Brands, home to products by SheaMoisture and Nubian Heritage, brings the rare knowledge of marketing to Black consumers in an authentic and profitable way. New Voices Fund is a growth equity partner that helps Black women scale and grow their businesses.

While, with Danny Meyer of Enlightened Hospitality Investments, Cole gets a mentor with a track record for running a successful fast-food chain (e.g., Shake Shack). “I got the Michael Jordan of food on my team,” she says. "[Meyer's] has proven that you can scale a business, and it can be unique.”

The future looks bright for the Slutty Vegan Brand. "This new round of investments will rapidly transform not just the vegan restaurant industry," Dennis says. "But will drive an incredible amount of health initiatives and food options for the Black community that may not have existed yet.”

Locations

Below is list of Slutty Vegan restaurants throughout Georgia.

  • Athens: 700 Baxter Street, Suite 800
  • Atlanta: 1542 Ralph David Abernathy Boulevard Southwest and 476 Edgewood Avenue Southeast
  • Duluth: 2045 Pleasant Hill Road
  • Jonesboro: 164 North McDonough Street

Cole continues to give back to the Black community while growing her business. The entrepreneur pledged to give scholarships to 30 juvenile offenders. She also promised to help the children of Rayshard Brooks attend college.

Cole is engaged to entrpreneur, Derrick Hayes, who owns Big Dave's Cheesesteaks. They have an infant daughter together and another child due soon.

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