Pinky Cole says Birmingham Slutty Vegan is ‘profitable’ and shares this advice for restaurateurs

Pinky Cole, CEO of Slutty Vegan, will be appearing in Birmingham this weekend at Avondale Gallery and Loft for a ticketed lunch and public book signing.

The vegan restaurateur is not only known for her multiple Slutty Vegan locations, but also for her Vegan bar in Atlanta, her philanthropic work, and teaming up with husband Derrick Hayes in other vegan businesses.

Since Cole opened the Birmingham Slutty Vegan location, the first outside of Atlanta, she has opened additional locations in Dallas and New York. However, she makes it clear that it was in Birmingham that she had to learn all the ropes of opening a restaurant in another city, which set her up for success in opening her other establishments in out of state.

“Birmingham was the stepping stone to being able to identify that things would be different…I was used to the Atlanta systems, county and state taxes. So in Alabama, the laws and permits are set up differently,” Cole told AL.com. “So there were a lot of learning curves that it took us over a year to be able to identify. But now I feel like we’re here and past the toddler stage.

Last summer, the Slutty Vegan store in Birmingham was vandalized after someone threw a brick through the glass front door. Cole said they have not opened an investigation.

“The reality is there is so much going on and we have insurance,” she said. “It was unfortunate, but it allowed us to focus on best practices. So we have installed unbreakable windows and doors in our restaurants. I have a policy that when something happens, we put a policy in place. So when things happen in my business, we just learn from them.

The site was also temporarily closed for about a week in late 2022 and early 2023 due to an “unforeseen mechanical issue.” But when AL.com asked Cole how the business had performed since opening in Birmingham, she said the restaurant was meeting her expectations.

“Birmingham Slutty Vegan is actually profitable,” Cole said. “This is one of my profitable locations. Which I’m glad about, because if you know anything about the restaurant industry, restaurants are not profitable. We have new management in place, we have new team members in place. We have a good group of people. I don’t have to worry about the Birmingham store because I have people running it properly.

In recent years, Cole’s personal life has changed dramatically: he had three children in three years and married Hayes last summer. She mentioned that the transition took her away from her businesses, but she plans to come back strong in 2024.

“I had other people running the business. I just came back to run the day-to-day operations,” she said. “My motto for 2024 is “get that old thing back.” »

She had some advice for hustler moms trying to balance it all:

“Some people may not like this advice, but if you’re an entrepreneur, creative, or have a 9-5 job, use your money in a way that will give you peace of mind. Money shouldn’t just buy clothes, money shouldn’t just pay rent. The money should allow you to hire someone to do your laundry so you can focus on business. The money will give you the opportunity to hire a night nanny, so you can rest easy if you are a newborn mom. The money is going to give you the ability to hire an assistant, so you can focus on what matters most, getting out there, talking, and representing your brand. For you to get into a space where you can have money, all you have to do is prioritize where your money goes.

Cole also gave advice to Birmingham restaurateurs:

“Always be a student. Even for me, with six years of Slutty Vegan, I still don’t know what I don’t know. You should always be a student. You should always try to learn how to become a better operator of a better business. Gone are the days when we ran mom-and-pop shops. Even though the company is small, even though there’s not a lot of revenue, we treat our brands like billion dollar brands because you never know who’s watching.

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