"Investing in food is investing in each other," believes Nick Wiseman, co-founder of Little Sesame, a restaurant in Washington, DC. The story of how they transformed their business model in the face of the pandemic and how their delicious hummus wound up in your 4P Produce Bag is inspiring; and it demonstrates the resilience of a local food system and the power of community.
Little Sesame is a fast-casual shop, serving fresh, veggie-centric Middle Eastern-inspired fare, including seasonal small plates, hummus bowls, pita sandwiches, and plant-based soft serve. Nick founded Little Sesame in 2016 with cousin David Wiseman and chef/partner Ronen Tenne in the 500 square foot basement of their former deli DGS, drawing on their combined culinary backgrounds, shared experiences in travel, and mutual love of good food.
Nick is a 3rd generation DC native who began cooking at fifteen years old. Later, while cooking in New York City, he met Ronen. Nick and Dave have been partnered in the restaurant business for over ten years, building relationships with farmers to source menu ingredients, including their Organic Kabuli chickpeas grown exclusively for them by farmer Casey Bailey in Fort Benton, Montana. Ronen is from Tivon, Israel, where memories of the markets drew him to cook and create his interpretation of foods from the Silk Route region.
After opening Little Sesame’s first location in Dupont/Golden Triangle, they opened a second location in Chinatown and have expansion plans for the near future! They aim to build community around their restaurants, and have built a devoted following around their unique menu and what The Washington Post calls the best hummus in DC. Their menu offers many vegetarian and vegan options, incorporating exciting flavors like za'atar and sumac alongside oat milk-based soft serve and tahini sesame paste. It offers something different and delicious for everyone.
In addition to their restaurants, the Little Sesame team also started the Little Seedlings program, an annual fellowship to support young farmers and helping them to grow their infrastructure with grants offered in conjunction with the National Young Farmers Coalition.
As the city began to feel the effects of the pandemic, Little Sesame, like many other neighborhood eateries, were faced with shut-downs (The hospitality industry shed almost half a million jobs in March 2020). Nick and his team decided that they would change their business model in the light of the economic crises and school closings that underscored DC's food insecurity.
Little Sesame launched Meals for the City, turning their commercial kitchens into community kitchens, preparing meals for D.C’s Ward 7 neighbors who have been most deeply impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. In partnership with locally-based nonprofits, including World Central Kitchen, they will have served 75,000 meals from their Chinatown location by the time the initiative ends in early fall 2020.
4P Foods is so excited to support Little Sesame and their mission to improve food access in the city - and their signature hummus became the perfect accompaniment to our Produce Bag veggies. Creamy and craveable with just the right amount of spice, it's become a 4P favorite!
Little Sesame Golden Triangle location is currently open for pick up and delivery and their Chinatown location will reopen Mid-September. Learn more & follow along their adventures: @eatlittlesesame
Cover photo by Anna Meyer Photo for Little Sesame.