Slutty Vegan CEO and founder Pinky Cole Hayes is helping discover some of the nation’s best Black-owned restaurants.

She’s partnering with Pepsi Dig In and calling on foodies to nominate their favorite eateries for the Restaurant Royalty Program, helping these businesses gain the recognition they need to succeed.

As the program returns for the third consecutive year, they have enlisted Cole Hayes as an ambassador to help identify the nation’s top Black-owned restaurants, enhancing rewards for both diners and establishments.

In an interview with Blavity, Cole Hayes shared why she teamed up with the brand and expressed her desire to support other Black-owned businesses in achieving success, similar to how Slutty Vegan has grown into a $100 million brand with the support of initiatives like Pepsi Dig In.

“The Pepsi Dig In campaign has always been a valuable asset for Slutty Vegan,” Cole Hayes told Blavity. “Since its inception, we’ve utilized Stubborn, a PepsiCo product, from the early days of Slutty Vegan. The [initiative] has provided resources that allowed me to continue growing my business.”

She continued, “Many companies make promises they never keep, but the Pepsi Dig In campaign has truly delivered its mission to support Black-owned restaurants and give them the recognition they deserve, especially through initiatives like the Restaurant Royalty Program. I’m honored to help guide Black-owned restaurants through this movement and ensure they receive the necessary resources to thrive.”

Fans have until June 30 to nominate their favorite local restaurant on to win incredible food-centric experiences. The winning fan-nominated restaurant will be showcased in the Pepsi Dig In Restaurant Royalty Residency in Las Vegas, a central culinary hub, in partnership with MGM Resorts International. Cole Hayes also discussed how her role could help them navigate their goals, as she can share business lessons she’s learned to help them avoid common pitfalls.

“Winning a residency with MGM Resorts to showcase your culinary talent could be the pivotal moment that changes your entire life and sets a new generational trajectory for you and your family,” she said.

“The winner will receive mentoring from me, drawing from my own experiences and lessons learned. What’s more, even those who nominate restaurants have a chance to win prizes, including travel opportunities and other valuable resources. This campaign operates as a mutually beneficial initiative where both nominators and nominees have opportunities to thrive,” Cole Hayes added.

When asked how the community can support Black-owned restaurants, Cole Hayes emphasized that patrons spreading awareness is one of the most effective ways to support a local business.

“Customers play a crucial role in the success of a business by sharing their experiences through word of mouth, whether standing in line, patronizing the business, or recommending it to friends,” she said. “In the restaurant industry, this support is particularly crucial, given our challenges. Money alone cannot buy the kind of support and goodwill that loyal customers provide.”