Slutty Vegan and Native Foods Unite In Chicago For Delicious Pop-Up Event

By Rashad Alexander

Last week, two all-star vegan brands teamed up in Chicago as one of the country’s most popular vegan eateries came to town.

Native Foods recently hosted Slutty Vegan, the Atlanta-based company currently touring the country and hosting pop-ups in multiple cities.

The Chicago pop-up at Native Foods in downtown Chicago included select items from the Slutty Vegan menu, including the “One Night Stand,” “Sloppy Toppy,” and “Fussy Hussy” burgers. All of which came with a side of fries. There were also select items from the Native Foods menu, which included their sweet treats and drink options. DJ Duane E. Powell curated the music at the event.

The ‘Slutty Vegan’ Story

Slutty Vegan was founded by Pinky Cole in 2018. A former TV producer, Cole had her first restaurant in 2014 called Pinky’s Jamaican and American Restaurant in Harlem, New York. The establishment was a success, but it caught fire in 2016, causing Cole to lose everything. 

During a brief stint doing DoorDash delivery, Cole was inspired to start a new business within the vegan food industry after seeing all the restaurants she would pick up food from. She opened her first truck in 2018 and now has over 10 restaurant locations in Atlanta, New York, Birmingham, Alabama, and Dallas.

The Slutty Vegan theme was created around sex as a way to grab eaters’ attention, especially those who aren’t familiar with veganism.

How The Slutty Vegan-Native Foods Collab Happened

People gathered for the Slutty Vegan pop-up at Native Foods

People gathered for the Slutty Vegan pop-up at Native Foods (Credit: OnJaLee Lashay).

To grow her brand, Cole posted on social media encouraging vegan restaurants to host its pop-ups. She eventually got in touch with Dame Dia, the owner of Native Foods in Chicago, and the two were able to combine their restaurants.

“As an entrepreneur, you have to find ways to get super creative to continue growing your brand,” Cole said in an interview with WVON before the event. “The people are coming to me, but I’m really the one that’s going to the people. Dame and I connected, we connected with his team. They were very professional, and we literally put this thing together in a matter of days.”

Owner Dame Dia and family joined by DJ Duane E. Powell

Owner Dame Dia and family joined by DJ Duane E. Powell (Credit, OnJaLee Lashay).

In November, Dia became the owner of Native Foods, making it a Black-owned establishment. Dia has been running the restaurant alongside his wife, OnjaLee LaShay, who handles the eatery’s marketing.

In February, Dia interviewed The Chicago Defender about Native Food’s opening and discussed his expectations for the restaurant’s future.

“We just want to make this place full every day. We want to change the way people eat,” Dia said. “You just have to teach them because a lot of people, when you teach them the importance of the food they eat. They may not know it.”

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