Fast-growing fast-casual chain Little Sesame will activate a mobile application this week, co-owner Nick Wiseman tells Eater, allowing users to skip long lines by completing orders on their phones before they pick up their hummus bowls and pita sandwiches in a store.
Releasing the app fits into Little Sesame’s goal to expand without losing sight of the happy, healthful vibe the brand has worked to cultivate since it began as an experiment in the basement in the now-closed DGS Delicatessen in Dupont Circle. The company announced in late October that it has a deal in place to open a second location in Chinatown, hopefully by next spring. Its first storefront opened just this past August.
Wiseman says the business represents the spirit of collaboration and excitement that stems from his friendship with fellow chef and co-founder Ronen Tenne, who originally bonded with Wiseman while they worked the line together in New York kitchens 10 years ago.
“From Day 1, we opened in the basement of DGS and it was just like there was immediate excitement,” Wiseman says. “There was a line out the door. I think we’ve just sort of really continued to build on that and tried to sort of — I think a lot of people say it — but truly build a community around people that believe in what we’re doing and want to be a part of it.”
The biggest challenge for the company, Wiseman says, will be maintaining that energy in a new neighborhood as demand from customers continues to grow. Right now, the communal feeling is “what’s keeping us going and putting a smile on our faces every day,” Wiseman says.
Wiseman and Tenne, a native Iraeli, still personally craft every menu item. They both work the line at the 30-seat shop down the road from where DGS used to stand. Their business partner, David Wiseman, is Nick’s cousin. The chickpea producer is someone Nick Wiseman met in his travels through Montana.
Even the desert oasis vibes of the Dupont shop’s interior are meant to make diners feel like they’re along for a ride with the Little Sesame crew in their branded VW bus. Wiseman wants people to feel like they’re enjoying an escape form the workday when they come in for lunch. But when two locations are open, it will be twice as tough for Wiseman and Tenne to personally oversee the experience.
Removing the hassle of waiting in line is one way to cut down on diners’ stress before the second location opens, Wiseman says. If Little Sesame can take its community online and stay true to what built its following in the first place, he thinks it can find success in Chinatown.
“It’s not necessarily some grand big marketing strategy that’s going to wow everyone,” Wiseman says. “It’s just doing things that feel authentic to ourselves.”