DoorDash has tapped restaurateur Pinky Cole as its next chief restaurant advisor, a position created last year to provide a bridge between the industry and the delivery giant.
Cole, CEO and founder of the fast-growing Slutty Vegan in Atlanta, begins her one-year term Wednesday, replacing inaugural liaison Stephanie Izard, founder of Chicago’s Girl & The Goat.
Cole was a DoorDash driver before she opened Slutty Vegan and now becomes a “voice of the industry” within the company, advocating for the needs of local restaurants in regular meetings with leadership and operators. Some DoorDash leaders will even have Cole on “speed dial”—a new part of the advisor role that will allow them to get her perspective on pressing topics as they arise.
Cole said she wants to work with the company to ensure restaurants have the resources they need to succeed. She added that being a restaurateur is one of the most difficult jobs she’s ever had.
“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,” she said in a statement. “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.”
Restaurants and third-party delivery companies have an uneasy relationship. In recent years, operators have lashed out about high commissions and data ownership, even as off-premise has grown as a percentage of industry sales. When DoorDash created the position last year, Chief Revenue Officer Tom Pickett said it was intended in part to capture operators’’ “unfiltered view” of the company.
During Izard’s tenure, she helped shape a new tech support program that gives restaurants a single point of contact when they need help. She also had a hand in developing a business accelerator for local CPG companies owned by women, transgender people, immigrants and people of color.
“Congrats to Pinky Cole and good luck as the Chief Restaurant Advisor at DoorDash—it was so fun,” Izard said in a statement Wednesday. “Excited for you to dive into this role!”
Cole founded Slutty Vegan in 2018, selling made-to-order vegan burgers from her apartment via Instagram. She soon opened a food truck and then a brick-and-mortar restaurant, and the brand has since grown to six locations with four more in the works. Last month, Slutty Vegan got a $25 million investment led by Danny Meyer’s Enlightened Hospitality Investments to fuel its growth.
“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,” Pickett said in a statement.
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