Despite its regional status, Pinky Cole’s Slutty Vegan is nationally recognized with celebrities including Tyler Perry and Shaquille O’Neil claiming the vegan burger chain as their favorite restaurant. Now, Cole – the founder of Atlanta-based Slutty Vegan – is eyeing significant national expansion, securing $25 million in a Series A funding round.

Led by social commerce giant Richelieu Denni’s New Voices Fund and Shake Shack founder Danny Meyer’s Enlightened Hospitality Investments, the most recent funding round will propel Slutty Vegan to new heights, planning to expand to 10 additional locations by the end of 2022 as well as 10 more storefronts by the end of 2023.

“To have the New Voices Venture Fund and the GOAT of the restaurant industry, Danny Meyer himself, to have them a part of this team is a recipe for success,” Cole said. “I’m excited about the people I’m involved with.”

Pinky Cole Gives Back to the Community

This Series A funding round will put Slutty Vegan at a valuation of around $100 million. By the end of 2023, the plant-based burger restaurant is projected to have at least 25 locations nationwide. Cole is also dedicated to supporting the communities where Slutty Vegan is located: The restauranteur has started funds dedicated to giving scholarships to 30 juvenile offenders and to help the children of Rayshard Brooks – who was killed at the hands of police in 2020 – attend college.

“When people see that you are not only building a profitable company, but you are building an ecosystem, people respect that,” Cole told Inc. “They continue to want to support you. It feels so good to know that level of growth can come beyond money, and funnel back out to our communities.”

The entrepreneur’s Pinky Cole Foundation is also dedicated to giving back to the community, helping underserved communities and people of color succeed in the face of discrimination across the board. The foundation helps empower economic progress in communities of color, providing the capital and education to help promote Black-owned businesses.

“It’s about partnering with these incredible entrepreneurs and their businesses to drive real scale and growth and create wealth for those founders,” Dennis told Forbes. “And that’s what Pinky has done here and continues to do. This new round of investments will rapidly transform not just the vegan restaurant industry but will drive an incredible amount of health initiatives and food options for the Black community that may not have existed yet.”

Shake Shack’s Slutty Vegan Burger

Shack Shack’s Danny Meyer first gave Slutty Vegan a shot last April when the massive burger chain unveiled the SluttyShack Burger stacked with lemon ginger kale, caramelized onions, vegan ranch, vegan mayo, and topped with Pinky’s secret Slut Dust. The partnership was a part of Shake Shack’s “Now Serving” collection that features smaller businesses at selected restaurants nationwide for a limited time offer.

“I had never seen vegan food presented in such a fun way,” Meyer told Forbes. “Leaders are often defined by the degree to which people want to follow them, and I saw people following the leader.”

Slutty Vegan's New Locations

Cole founded Slutty Vegan as a food truck in 2018 after her first restaurant – Pinky’s Jamaican – burnt down in a kitchen fire. Since then, Cole has transformed the food truck into a multi-million dollar brand that is serving thousands of vegan burgers to hungry guests. Cole claims that 97 percent of her customers that order the vegan burgers are meat-eaters, and she aims to continue introducing guests to this late-night fast food.

“When I started this concept, I was really solving a problem for myself but what I didn't realize at the time was I was helping solve a universal problem and that was helping people reimagine food, but in a way that they had never seen it before,” Cole told The Beet. “Historically when we talk about vegans, it’s always been a bougie lifestyle... But I wanted to create an atmosphere that was inclusive for all people no matter where you live or where you came from or what you do for a living, you can have vegan and plant-based options cruelty-free and guilt-free.”

Now, Cole aims to create an inclusive atmosphere across the entire United States. Several Slutty Vegan locations have already been announced including two storefronts in New York City (Harlem and Brooklyn), New York; Birmingham, Alabama; Athens, Georgia; and Baltimore, Mayland. With Cole’s current momentum, soon every American will be able to drive to get Slutty Vegan’s signature vegan burgers.

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