Aisha “Pinky” Cole Hayes, the owner and operator of Slutty Vegan, has a lot of celebrity fans. That’s no surprise, considering her knack for making food that’s beloved by vegans, carnivores, and everyone in between. The former-food-truck-turned-chain won the heart of the stars back in its early days, with the likes of Snoop Dogg, Tyler Perry, and others singing the praises of its towering vegan burgers.
Cole Hayes opened the first brick-and-mortar version of the vegan fast-food joint in Atlanta back in January 2019. Slutty Vegan has since multiplied, with several locations across Georgia, one in Alabama and Texas, and the recently-opened spots in Brooklyn and Harlem, New York.
Slutty Vegan’s legacy
New York City Mayor Eric Adams, who follows a plant-based diet, praised the restaurant’s expansion to the Big Apple in a video. “Anyone who knows me knows that I like to eat healthy and plant-based. We love our brothers and sisters in Atlanta but it was about time you brought your vegan burgers here to the greatest city in the world,” he said.
Cole Hayes isn’t stopping with NYC—she plans to open 20 new restaurants by the end of 2023.
There’s no doubt that Cole Hayes’ provocative-named vegan burgers—like the Heaux Boy and the Fussy Hussy—have propelled Slutty Vegan into the stratosphere of fame. Her success has happened side-by-side with collaborations with Steve Madden and The Lip Bar, an advisory role at DoorDash, and a cookbook.
But, Cole Hayes’ philanthropy has also boosted her celebrity status. Her charity, the Pinky Cole Foundation, focuses on supporting young Black entrepreneurs. In 2019, she helped pay the tuition of 30 Clark Atlanta University students. And in 2022, she gifted an LLC to every graduating student at Clark Atlanta University’s commencement ceremony. Even some celebrity fans have gotten in on the action. Rapper Jermaine Dupri helped Cole Hayes with an initiative that rewarded voters with free vegan burgers.
Who are Slutty Vegan’s celebrity fans?
Cue the chorus of “Celebrities! They’re just like us.” Here are just some of Slutty Vegan’s celebrity fans.
Back in Slutty Vegan’s early days in 2019, Usher sang the fast-food joint’s praises. The Grammy Award-winning rapper—who began his music career in Atlanta—paid the restaurant a visit to try the Ménages à Trois burger, which features a patty with vegan bacon, vegan shrimp, vegan cheese, caramelized onions, lettuce, tomato, and its signature sauce on a Hawaiian bun.
“I’m feeling frisky, here we go,” Usher said in a video shared across Slutty Vegan’s social media platforms. “This is good.”
2 Viola Davis
Academy Award-winning actor Viola Davis is one of Slutty Vegan’s biggest celebrity fans. The star of epic historical drama The Woman King first caught wind of the restaurant in its food truck days. She was such a fan, that she booked the truck for catering while she was filming, per Essence.
“We were in a pandemic where we were watching George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor on a loop,” Davis told the magazine. “And it was a constant reminder that we were, and have been in this country, the leftovers. It’s amazing how people come to life when they are cared for, when they’re literally thought about in any way—their health, their joy, their comfort. And perhaps the secret sauce to her company, other than absolutely awesome food, is that she cares about her people.”
3 Snoop Dogg
It’s safe to say that Snoop Dogg is a fan of vegan food, considering his history of promoting Beyond Meat. But, he’s also one of Slutty Vegan’s original celebrity fans. In a 2019 video, he was captured noshing on fries—we assume that he already demolished the burger. Although Snoop Dogg didn’t have much to say, he gave the cashier an enthusiastic thumbs-up—we agree, Snoop.
4 Spike Lee
Filmmaker Spike Lee was photographed at Slutty Vegan’s recent opening in Brooklyn. The restaurant captioned the photo of the director, screenwriter, and producer with “We think it’s safe to say @officialSpikeLee knows how to ‘Do the right thing!’”
5 Shaquille O’Neal
In 2022, NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal candidly shared that he’s been cutting back his meat consumption. And, he’s found that Slutty Vegan satisfies his cravings for the type of food that he wants to eat.
On an episode of the show Urban Eats & Treats hosted by comedian Rip Michaels, Shaq said, “It’s not that I’m going vegan. My friend introduced me to this place and it’s healthy. For example, I like cheeseburgers, right? But the way [Cole Hayes] cooks it, I can eat healthy, but still feel like I’m eating bad.”
6 Lena Waithe
The award-winning actor, screenwriter, and producer is yet another celebrity fan of Slutty Vegan. Waithe’s love for Cole Hayes’ super-stacked burgers goes way back to 2018. “That’s good,” Waithe remarked between bites.
Slutty Vegan captioned the video, “It’s safe to say @lenawaithe has been #SLUTTIFIED.”
True to Cole Hayes’ charitable nature, she and Waithe—along with actor Gabrielle Union, former NBA All-Star Dwayne Wade, singer Janelle Monáe, and rapper Ludacris—helped cover the funeral costs of a 15-year-old who died by suicide after being targetted with anti-gay bullying.
7 Tyler Perry
Comedian Tyler Perry is a particularly vocal fan of Slutty Vegan. Perry was captured on video sampling the fast-food munchies back in 2018, when Slutty Vegan was still in its food truck days. “It’s safe to say that mama, WE made it,” Slutty Vegan captioned the Instagram post featuring the entertainer.
“This is too good to be vegan. This is really good,” he said before breaking into a dance. Good food makes us feel that way, too.
8 Gabrielle Union
In June 2020, actor Gabrielle Union was among several stars who “bought out” Slutty Vegan for the day as a thank you for Cole Hayes’ philanthropic efforts. The result? Free food for visitors all day.
“Such great food and truly great people!! Glad we could help out. Hate will never win #WeAllWeGot #StrongerTogether,” Union tweeted at the time.
The hashtags are a nod to the backlash that occurred after Cole Hayes announced that she would pay the college tuition fees of the four children of Rayshard Brooks, a 27-year-old Black man who was fatally shot by Atlanta police in June 2020. Naysayers flooded Cole Hayes’ business with negative online reviews, sparking an outpouring of support from celebrities and the non-famous alike.
9 Chris Paul
NBA All-Star Chris Paul was another celebrity who helped make Slutty Vegan meals free of charge for a day in 2020. But, in June 2021, in honor of Juneteenth, he declared that free food was on the menu again.
“In the spirit of Juneteenth, I’m honored to support a Black-owned business while dedicating resources to feed the community,” Paul said at the time. “Let’s celebrate this Saturday.”
Ludacris first began rapping in Atlanta, so it’s no wonder that the Grammy-award-winning rapper would show Slutty Vegan some love. The “Money Maker” rapper helped make Slutty Vegan meals free for visitors in Atlanta back in 2020.
11 Jermaine Dupri
As mentioned above, Dupri played a role in Cole’s initiative to encourage Atlanta locals to exercise their right to vote. The music mogul’s love for Slutty Vegan and charitable endeavors is still going strong. Last summer, Dupri personally served up catering that the restaurant provided during People for the Ethical Treatment of Animal’s (PETA) annual Congressional Veggie Dog Lunch event on Capitol Hill.
These aren’t all of Slutty Vegan’s fans. According to several press releases, the restaurant’s famous visitors include multi-hyphenates Colin Kaepernick, Queen Latifah, Will Smith, Tiffany Haddish, Martin Lawrence, Taraji P. Henson, Justin Timberlake, Missy Elliott, and more. In addition to earning the love of New York City’s own Mayor Adams, Slutty Vegan has also gained a political follower in Georgia Senator Jon Ossoff.