Brooklyn has officially been “Sluttified,” a term that means one has experienced at least one burger from Slutty Vegan, the Black-owned vegan burger chain founded in Atlanta, Georgia. The provocatively named establishment had its grand opening in Brooklyn, N.Y. earlier this month. The Atlanta business, now worth $100 million, is owned by Pinky Cole who started this vegan fast-food spot on Aug. 6, 2018.
“One Night Stand” is the name of a popular burger served by the restaurant, which uses fresh Beyond Beef and Impossible Beef patties.
“My wildest dreams have come true,” Cole said, holding back tears as the crowd cheered her on. Cole, 34, is a Maryland-born, Jamaican descendant who loves food. She was inspired to create Slutty Vegan based on her own vegan junk food cravings. Her plant-based burger business started from food trucks before she was able to open her first physical restaurant in January 2019. Cole once had a restaurant in NYC called Pinky’s Jamaican and American restaurant. The business was successful with, “lines down the block” Cole once said. She lost this food place to a grease fire in 2015.
“I lost everything,” Cole said about her first official food business. “Although it hurt to get stung by the bee, that was time for me, for the universe, to provide me with a barrel of prosperity,” she said at the Brooklyn location.
Slutty Vegan Brooklyn’s grand opening in Fort Greene helps provide healthier options in the neighborhood. The spot was previously occupied by The Broccoli Bar, another vegan food establishment. This new Brooklyn location is Cole’s seventh restaurant, with five in Georgia and one in Birmingham, Alabama which opened in early September 2022.
According to www1.nyc.gov and nycfuture.org, the Black community currently makes up 22% of New York City’s population, yet only 3.5% of NYC businesses are owned by Black entrepreneurs. Cole is contributing to the growth of Black-owned vegan options in communities.
During the recent ribbon-cutting, Councilwoman Farah Louis was present on behalf of the mayor’s office to proclaim Sept. 18, 2022 as “Slutty Vegan Brooklyn Day in the city of New York.” During Cole’s speech, she expressed the full circle moment she was having with the opening of this Brooklyn location.
Cole spoke to the large crowd of supporters and onlookers about her gratitude for all ethnicities supporting her establishment. Cole dedicated the Brooklyn location to her employees, who she credited as the ones who helped take her business to the next level during the past two years.
Long-Island native Nyola Marsh, 26, is appreciative of Slutty Vegan because it shows the positive representation of a Black woman in business. “We need more representation of the Black woman and not even just entrepreneurship or restaurant business, but just out here in business regardless,” Marsh said.
Marsh described the eye-catching on the corner of Fulton Street and S. Portland Avenue as a perfect representation of Black culture in Brooklyn. As a non-vegan eater, Marsh is willing to expand her taste palate with healthier food choices as she has cut back on eating meat.
Black communities continue to struggle from environmental racism, including unhealthy food options. These unhealthy food options led many Black Americans to deal with health issues such as hypertension, cholesterol, and obesity. As of March 2022, heart.org reported that about 55% Black Americans have hypertension. As of February 2022, verywellheath.com reported that 44.8% of Black men and 42.1% of Black women have high or borderline high cholesterol levels. And, CDC reported non-Hispanic Black adults have the highest rate of obesity at 49.9%. Slutty Vegan is now added to the list of Black-owned vegan restaurants in the city, including Seasoned Vegan and Greedi Kitchen, according to onegreenplanet.org.
“I’m about to get Sluttified,” food photographer Andrew Scrivani said before experiencing his first taste of a Slutty Vegan burger. “It’s delicious, it’s fresh and light,” Scrivani said about their One Night Stand burger. The food photographer, who shoots for The New York Times, foresees the business doing well and points out how hard-working and accommodating the staff were despite being very busy. “That staff in there is energetic and wonderful,” he said. “Between the people and the food, you can’t lose.”
It was his first-time taking photos of Slutty Vegan and meeting Cole today. “She’s an inspiration, I feel inspired today. I’ve been around food my entire career, and this is one of the more exciting things I’ve done in terms of covering an opening/community event.” Scrivani strongly believes celebrating Black excellence should be embraced more in Brooklyn. “This kind of achievement is a modeling behavior, modeling for everybody else around possibilities and hope.” This type of possibility provides Cole with the chance to not only expand her business, but to create more Black-owned vegan businesses in NYC.
Actress and singer Naturi Naughton was present to support Cole. The actress was involved with a social media marketing advertisement for Slutty Vegan’s Brooklyn arrival. Hip hop pioneer Doug E. Fresh came later in the evening and performed for the crowd and customers who waited in line for up to five hours to get their hands on one of the popular burgers. According to the restaurant’s Instagram page, they sold out their food around 7 p.m.
Slutty Vegan employees exhibited high energy and were very attentive as well as entertaining for the duration of the Brooklyn opening day. There were countless moments of her crew dancing and having a fun time while working. Cole’s team of 30 plus staff included her Slutty Vegan restaurant staff she brought with her from Atlanta.
“Now we’re back, bigger and better and we’re here to take over,” said Nakita Simon, an Atlanta native and Slutty Vegan employee. “We here, we lit, we live and we’re going to do it the slutty way,” Simon said with her energetic and fun vibes present in the 80-degree sunny weather. Most of Cole’s team wore “Spread love, it’s the SLUTTY way!” shirts to pay homage to legendary Brooklyn rapper the Notorious B.I.G.’s “Spread love, it’s the Brooklyn way” mantra.
We can expect the next Slutty Vegan location in St. Louis, Missouri by the end of September according to their official Instagram page. A second New York City Slutty Vegan location will open in Harlem sometime this fall according to one of her Slutty Vegan staff members at the Brooklyn opening.
Visit www.sluttyveganatl.com/brooklyn for more info.