Pinky Cole responds to employees’ lawsuit claiming she kept 25% of tips for owners, managers

ATLANTA — Pinky Cole, the celebrity owner of Slutty Vegan and Bar Vegan, responded after her former employees filed a lawsuit against the restaurant entrepreneur.

Channel 2′s Audrey Washington spoke exclusively with a current employee who said he is treated and paid well.

The employee, who asked not to be identified, said he’s aware of the lawsuit against Cole and his other bosses.

But he said he’s never experienced any payment issues.

“Yes, I’ve been treated fairly,” the employee said.

“Do you have a good experience inside of Bar Vegan?” Washington asked.

“Yes, I’ve had no problems with them,” the employee said.

“Are you paid fairly?” Washington asked.

“I make $15.50. I’m getting paid good,” the employee said.


Wednesday, Channel 2 Action News sat down with the attorney for the former employees. They state in the lawsuit that the restaurant paid tipped employees $2.13 an hour while requiring those workers to hand over 25% of their tips to the owners and managers of Bar Vegan.

“A waiter can be paid $2.13 an hour or someone else who receives tips from patrons instead of the $7.25 that’s mandated by federal minimum wage law, but that’s only if they receive tips from the customer and only if they keep 100% of the tips,” attorney Travis Foust with Parks, Chesin & Walbert said.

Washington tried getting ahold of Cole’s attorney and public relations team but never heard back from them.

Cole denied the allegations on her Instagram page and wrote in part: “She does not run day-to-day operations at Bar Vegan.”

Then she asked: “What do I gain by withholding someone’s hard-earned money when my blessings overflow every day?”

Next, she wrote that TV producers canceled her scheduled appearance on a national morning show due to the controversy.

She wrote: “That’s the price you pay when you decide to be a boss. Double-edged sword.”

Bar Vegan remains open for business. However, customers told Washington that the allegations are concerning.