Slutty Vegan, an Atlanta-based fast casual, raised $25 million to fuel its growth plans, including an investment from restaurateur Danny Meyer’s investment group.
Founder and CEO Pinky Cole told Forbes that she will use the funds to open 10 more units by the end of 2022 and debut another 10 in 2023. She also plans to hire a COO and CMO to handle the accelerating expansion. The recent Series A funding round values the fast casual at $100 million, Forbes reported.
The restaurant has four locations in Georgia, and additional stores have been announced for Birmingham, Alabama, Brooklyn, and Athens, Georgia. In late December, Slutty Vegan announced the hiring of MuHammad Yasin, a professionally trained chef and Panera veteran, as its district manager, and Joi Alexander, a former CAVA executive, as its national director of sales & catering.
When Cole arrived in Atlanta several years ago, she found a gap in plant-based offerings and made it her mission to fill the void. She began experimenting with recipes and used inspiration from her her largely vegetarian, Rastafarian household growing up; her grandmother’s scratch-made cooking; and a desire to create vegan food that was fun and unfamiliar. Slutty Vegan opened as a ghost kitchen in 2018 serving plant-based burgers, fries, and other classics through DoorDash delivery.
Cole was named one of 15 Young Leaders to Watch by QSR magazine in June 2020.
“We’re focusing on opening up multiple locations, first in Georgia but also in other markets,” Cole told QSR. “We grab people’s attention, and that’s why we’re making it. We shock them and delight them, and that has given us so much support from a wide range of customers.”
Slutty Vegan received an investment from Enlightened Hospitality Investments, a growth equity firm associated with Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group. The company has been known to push capital toward up-and-coming brands in the fast-casual segment. Toward the end of 2021, it was revealed that Enlightened Hospitality Investments led a $27.5 million funding round to support Tacombi, a Mexican chain looking to reach 75 brick-and-mortar stores. The firm has also made investments in artisanal ice cream concept Salt & Straw, online marketplace Goldbelly, Joe Coffee Company, and farm-to-table brand Dig.
In addition to Meyer, Slutty Vegan received funds from entrepreneur Richelieu Dennis’ New Voices Fund. He is the founder of Sundial Brands, which sells personal care and beauty products.