Atlanta’s favorite plant-based stop Slutty Vegan is growing into a vegan food empire, and this week the fast food giant became one of the earliest recipients of The Black Restaurant Accelerator Program. The campaign, led by the PepsiCo Foundation and the National Urban League, aims to support black restaurateurs affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The initiative will distribute $ 10 million to revitalize black-owned businesses in 12 cities. The money will be shared among 500 black restaurant owners over the next five years as the country reopens after the nationwide closings.
“As the pandemic exposed the existing disparities faced by many minority business owners, we saw a fundamental threat that could undo decades of advances in black-owned restaurants,” said CD Glin, vice president and global head of philanthropy at PepsiCo Foundation. “The investment will help black restaurant owners not only recover from the pandemic, but also put them on the path to long-term economic resilience. We are inspired by the advances we are making through our collaboration with the National Urban League to fill a fundamental void and create opportunities for black business owners to build generational wealth and further empower their communities. “
The founder of Slutty Vegan, Pinky Cole, started her business for the first time in 2018 as a food truck. The vegan food truck made a name for itself with burgers like the One Night Stand and the Fussy Hussy with Impossible Patties and Cole’s signature sauce. Her instant success enabled her to open a stationary restaurant in January 2019. Since then, Cole has opened two more locations and runs a spin-off called Bar Vegan, which serves vegan drinks and meatless Philly cheesesteaks.
Although Cole’s vegan empire is growing, it is experiencing the same financial hardship as many companies during the pandemic. A report from Stanford University’s Institute for Economic Policy Research found that black business owners felt the trials of the pandemic more intensely than white-owned companies. Since the pandemic began in February 2020, 41 percent of black-owned restaurants have closed, compared to just 17 percent of white-owned restaurants. This difference has inspired the PepsiCo Foundation and the National Urban League to help these companies directly by providing both money and management training.
“Black businesses and consumers are instrumental in our nation’s economic strength, and they deserve the same recognition and support for the important role they play in our communities,” President and CEO of the National Urban League. “We are proud to partner with the PepsiCo Foundation on a vitally important matter that helps business owners and addresses one of the critical economic disparities affecting black communities.”
Cole’s notoriety extends well beyond her vegan restaurant and is constantly giving back to black communities across Atlanta. The restaurant’s nonprofit, The Pinky Cole Foundation, sponsors and funds several social justice initiatives that seek to support blacks’ economic progress. The owner also raised funds to pay tuition fees for 30 Clark Atlanta University students.
The slutty vegan empire is set to grow outside of Georgia soon, with Cole planning to open a store in Birmingham, AL later this year. In addition to its growing popularity, the PepsiCo donation will allow Cole’s vegan chain to establish itself across the south.
“Slutty Vegan will be the new fast-casual restaurant,” she said. “I think people will be happy about this because it has different kinds of options and more people want to go plant-based. That part feels really good. “
The 6 best fast food chains with plant-based options on the menu
Fast food restaurants have finally gotten the memo that their customer base isn’t just coming for a burger, fried chicken, or beef taco. Many now have plant-based foods and come up with creative, delicious ways to add more vegetables to the menu. Here are the 6 best fast food chains with plant-based options on the menu.