This week, entrepreneur Pinky Cole is taking over the position of Chief Restaurant Advisor at delivery platform DoorDash. Previously held by chef Stephanie Izard, the year-long role was designed to better connect the perspectives of restaurant operators to decision-makers within DoorDash so that the platform can optimally serve everyone who uses it.
Cole is known for her wildly successful Atlanta-based business Slutty Vegan, a growing burger chain that she started as a food truck in 2018. With every new location, Slutty Vegan draws hours-long lines of people waiting to get “slutified”—or try one of the chain’s provocatively named burgers such as the One Night Stand, Fussy Hussy, and Super Slut. In addition to her thriving business, Cole engages in social justice advocacy through The Pinky Cole Foundation, which she created with the express purpose of helping to empower communities of color.
Cole will bring her extensive knowledge in the restaurant industry, along with her social justice perspectives, to her new role at DoorDash, including through a new feature called “Speed Dial,” where industry leaders will be able to discuss pressing topics with Cole to gain perspective. Here, Cole will serve as a liaison between DoorDash leaders, employees, and local restaurateurs in hosting industry roundtables, attending strategy meetings, and providing feedback on products and services that have yet to be rolled out broadly to restaurant partners.
“Pinky’s ambitious entrepreneurial mindset for expanding her restaurant empire, coupled with her love for connecting with the communities she operates within through the Pinky Cole Foundation, makes her an ideal operator to assume the role of Chief Restaurant Advisor,” Tom Pickett, Chief Revenue Officer at DoorDash, said in a statement. “We’re confident that Pinky’s experience scaling Slutty Vegan from a ghost kitchen to a food truck to multiple brick and mortar locations will bring an invaluable perspective to our company—especially as we continue to see the resilient nature and entrepreneurial spirit of the industry.”
Pinky Cole brings Slutty Vegan know-how to DoorDash
While Slutty Vegan has become a wildly successful business, it was not without struggle for Cole. The restaurateur’s first venture was a Pinky’s Jamaican and American Restaurant in Harlem, NY, where a fire forced her to shutter the business in 2016.
Cole pressed on after the tragedy, and she brings all of her experience to her new role at DoorDash. “Before beginning Slutty Vegan, I worked as a Dasher in Los Angeles,” Cole said. “So serving as Chief Restaurant Advisor is a full-circle moment for me.”
Cole has also weathered the ups and downs of the COVID-19 pandemic at Slutty Vegan, while at the same time helping Atlanta residents, essential workers, and first responders survive the worst of it through her nonprofit.
“Putting the pandemic aside, the restaurant industry is unpredictable. I’m excited to get to work with DoorDash to ensure restaurants will have appropriate resources to succeed, regardless of the hand that’s dealt,” Cole said. “Being a restaurateur is by far one of the most difficult jobs I’ve ever had. But through experience I have learned to maneuver through this industry in a way that allows me to connect with the customer to identify what they like and what they don’t like. I am thrilled to be able to use this expertise to support the DoorDash team in decision making that will ultimately help this organization better connect with the people.”
Slutty Vegan’s $25 million growth plans
In addition to her active role at DoorDash, over the next year Cole will continue to expand her Slutty Vegan business empire, bolstered by a $25 million investment she secured last month. Some of this funding came from Danny Meyer—the restaurateur behind Shake Shack—who invested in Slutty Vegan after recognizing that Cole is a powerful business leader. “I had never seen vegan food presented in such a fun way,” Meyer told For(bes) the Culture in May. “Leaders are often defined by the degree to which people want to follow them, and I saw people following the leader.”
The new funding will help give Slutty Vegan’s existing expansion plans extra momentum. Currently, the vegan chain operates five locations in Georgia and has plans to open in Birmingham, AL; Brooklyn, NY; and more. Outside of Slutty Vegan’s physical shops, Cole—who recently welcomed her first child with partner Derrick Hayes—is expanding the business into high-profile partnerships, the most recent of which is a Slutty Vegan shoe line collaboration with iconic designer Steve Madden.
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