The success of Pinky Cole’s business, Slutty Vegan, has been tremendous. Watch this exclusive interview with the hit of the town, as she shares what the city of Atlanta means to her. Video by Ryon Horne, Tyson Horne, Najja Parker/AJC

Slutty Vegan owner Pinky Cole reveals why she’s forever indebted to Atlanta

Love perusing through social media to find out what your favorite influencers are up to? Get a closer glimpse into how they spend their time in Atlanta with “ATL Closeup,” a new AJC feature that explores the leisure lives of some of the city’s most notable personalities as they go from work to play mode over the course of a typical weekend —from their favorite places to dine to the little-known spots where they find retreat.

Have you been to the Westview neighborhood lately? If so, you’ve probably noticed a line on Ralph David Abernathy Boulevard spanning at least two blocks. All of those people are famished and in the mood for only one thing: a Slutty Vegan burger. 

» RELATED: First Look: Slutty Vegan brings fun plant-based food to Westview

Pinky Cole, the owner of the plant-based burger joint, takes pleasure in feeding the masses.

Atl Closeup with Pinky Cole, owner of Slutty Vegan. (Tyson Horne / Tyson.Horne@AJC.com)
Photo: Tyson A. Horne

Since the Baltimore-native opened the restaurant in January, thousands have tasted one of her 10 sandwiches, including Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, Tyler Perry, Tamar Braxton, actress Taraji P. Henson and so many others. And they haven’t been shy about spreading the word.

Even when Cole only had a food truck, most folks were (and still are) posting videos of themselves on social media devouring a juicy burger doused in her signature slutty sauce for the very first time.

The success of Cole’s business has been tremendous. And with plans to open several other Slutty Vegan locations in ATL, the Clark Atlanta University alum is overwhelmed with gratitude.

“Atlanta owes me nothing,” she said. “I’m forever indebted to this place, because Atlanta is the reason why I have one of the most successful businesses in the country.”

When the entrepreneur, who’s also an award-winning television producer, isn’t cooking up mouthwatering meals in her kitchen, she’s carving out time to hit up some of her favorite places in the city. Here’s where you’ll likely find the West Midtown resident on any given weekend in Atlanta.

Finger-licking good meal 

If Cole isn’t craving a Slutty Vegan burger, she travels about five minutes north of her establishment to feast at Tassili’s Reality Raw, a vegan eatery known for its massive kale wraps.

The Dat Ish Wrap from Tassili's Raw Reality is the size of a burrito and packs a heavy punch in terms of both flavor and satisfaction. CONTRIBUTED BY HENRI HOLLIS
Photo: Henri Hollis/Henri Hollis

Her favorite item on the menu is an entree, with an X-rated name, that rolls a bit of soy mayo, kale salad, avocado, tomato, sweet coconut corn and Karamu couscous all into a yummy wrap. It’s available in the half or full size like many of the other selections. 

“When I go, I get the full size, because I’m greedy,” she laughed. “I get the full size, because I’m always on the go. I can eat half of it today, and I can save the other half tomorrow unless somebody that’s close to me eats it all.”

The restaurant also offers tasty treats, too, such as herbal popcorn, brownies and chocolate chip cookies. And of course, they’re all vegan. 

“I just like to eat fun food. I like to make sure that my food is colorful,” said Cole, who grew up vegetarian and became vegan about four years ago. “Any opportunity I get to get some really good vegan food, I do that.”

Her top dining picks: 

Tassili's Raw Reality Café, 1059 Ralph David Abernathy Blvd., Atlanta. 404-343-6126, tassilisrawreality.com.

Shop-til-you-drop spot

You probably won’t catch Pinky browsing in the mall. The self-proclaimed “black hippie” is not a big shopper, although she does like to keep a few pairs of Steven Madden shoes in her closet. 

Cole said she has a tendency to throw on clothes that simply match and are clean, so she sometimes gets help from celebrity stylist Kash Howard, who owns the Seven 74 Boutique in North Buckhead.

“She always puts me in something I couldn’t put together myself. She makes me look dazzling. I’m happy to have her on my side,” Cole said of Howard, who has dressed Grammy-nominated gospel singers Koryn Hawthorne and Le'Andria Johnson.

From casual graphic T-shirts to gowns for events like Sheen Magazine’s Kimmie Awards, Cole said she feels like a “princess” when Howard beautifies her. 

“She wants to make sure I keep true to myself but puts a little razzle dazzle to it,” she said.

Her top shopping pick: 

Seven 74 Boutique, 175 W Wieuca Road NE #141, Atlanta. 404-429-6557, seven74accessoriesonline.com.

Social Hour

Cole admits she doesn’t party much. Staying at home conducting research about how to grow her business and invest her money is her idea of a fun night. 

“Work is play for me ... I’m on such a mission that I have to win at all costs,” she said. “In order for me to do that, it’s going to require me to make some sacrifices.”

When her friends do manage to pull her away from her desk, they end up at Atlantic Station. The entertainment hub has tons of restaurants, shops and other attractions, but Cole likes the movie theater the most. 

“I always like it there to go to the movies. I haven’t been able to go in a while. I need to go, because sometimes we need a vacation.”

Her top party spot picks:

Atlantic Station, 1371 Market St., Atlanta. 404-410-4010, atlanticstation.com.

The wind down

Meditating is one of Cole’s favorite ways to relax. Whether she’s running two miles at the gym in her complex or listening to tunes by Erykah Badu and Jill Scott, she’s always taking time to reflect.

She especially ruminates when she practices Bikram yoga at CorePower Yoga in Midtown. 

“You go in there, and it’s almost like 100 degrees. You are one with yourself, and you do all these crazy, painful poses,” she described. “It’s just a great feeling to be able to stretch, let loose and release all those toxins in my body. Whatever I’m feeling or thinking about that’s not in alignment with who I am, I get to remove all of those things when I do yoga.”

Her top relax destination:

CorePower Yoga, 860 Peachtree St. NE, Suite J, Atlanta. 

Hidden gem

Plant Based Pizzeria near the Virginia Highland neighborhood gets Cole’s vote for the most underrated business in the city. 

“They sell the best plant-based pizza in the A! Okay?” she gushed. “This is the plug. They have the best! Fight me about it. Let’s argue.”

The spot opened at the top of the year and serves a variety of pies, such as the Vegan Duluxe, the Vegan Meat Lovers and the Georgia Peach, which is topped with roasted peaches, red onions and more. 

“It’s so fantastic. I’m happy that they’re shifting the culture and helping people re-imagine food.”  

If you go:

Plant Based Pizzeria, 730 Barnett St. NE, Atlanta. 404-835-2739, plantbasedpizzeria.net.

» RELATED: 20 vegan restaurants to try in metro Atlanta

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