Meet Pinky Cole. I haven’t yet, but I did meet her executive chef recently as I often ride past the third and newest location of her fast-growing and wildly-popular vegan take-out joint, Slutty Vegan, on Atlanta’s Edgewood Avenue in the Old Fourth Ward. (We had a nice chat but he didn’t want me to take a photo for my Today’s Nice Stranger series because he “wasn’t yet in his Slutty clothes.” Branding matters!)
Slutty Vegan is bright yellow and beckons to you. Inside it pays homage to the Slutty Vegan start (less than two years ago) as a food truck business (following a restaurant Pinky had in New York City’s Harlem neighborhood that burned to the ground).
The name Slutty Vegan refers to indulgent comfort food that happens to be plant-based, as opposed to other vegan places that may focus on super-healthy, light food. Note: The lines are three hours long. (It was closed when I took these photos. I haven’t eaten there yet, but I’m eyeing the sweet jerk plantains with lettuce, tomato and Slut Sauce on a vegan Hawaiian bun. What’s your pick?)
I started following Pinky on social media, and this is a woman with a mission. Watch out, world. She is on fire. Take a peek:
And she’s making news. CBS News ran this story in September. Fast Company ran this article just three days ago. Former President Obama delivered a speech in front of Pinky’s Jonesboro location the day before the recent general election. Current U.S. Senator David Perdue, in one of two runoffs for senate seats on January 5, disparaged Slutty Vegan recently on, get this, Small Business Saturday (during a pandemic that has had a disproportionate impact on small businesses as well as Black and Brown communities).
In contrast to Senator Perdue’s divisive comment, here is the proclamation the Atlanta City Council issued when the Edgewood Avenue location opened:
Last week, as I was Traveling at the Speed of Bike on Edgewood Avenue in the City of Atlanta, the block where Slutty Vegan is located was closed, and I detoured around it.
Turns out the building across the street — previously Sound Table, which was currently sporting a Black Futures Matter mural and about to open as a new bar/restaurant — recently cracked due to pre-construction land disturbance by another business in the adjoining parking lot. That wide yellow storefront in the distance in this photo is Slutty Vegan*.
Two hours later, when I was returning from doing rubber-hits-the-road research for a new self-guided tour for Ride Spot at Atlanta’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs)**, I came upon a sea of fire engines and news trucks. The building’s entire wall had fallen. The interior stairs were completely exposed. You could count the liquor bottles at the bar.
I don’t know how long this block will be closed. I’ll check it out again tomorrow during my next Atlanta-based ride. I do believe, however, that this won’t slow Pinky down with her ambitious plans. There will soon be yellow everywhere.
* Another corner is home to Sister Louisa’s Church of the Living Room and Ping Pong Emporium (commonly known as simply Church). The art of advocacy is everywhere in this area, and throughout many neighborhoods in the City of Atlanta.
** Pinky is a graduate of the HBCU Clark Atlanta University, by the way. She and a fellow Clark Atlanta alumna and restaurateur named Stacey Lee helped pay tuitions for 30 students there recently.
Reverend Warnock is in the other Senate runoff, by the way. His headquarters is a block away from Slutty Vegan, and he preaches at Ebenezer Baptist Church just around the block. He is a graduate of the HBCU Morehouse College.
We will be voting one more time here in the State of Georgia, starting December 14.