Credit: Photo by Anna Meyer

Call it Garbanzo-gate.

Local fast-casual restaurant Little Sesame has become synonymous with hummus. And you can’t make hummus without chickpeas. So it’s really big deal that a shipment of 6,150 pounds of the legume are unaccounted for. 

If you’re looking for a comparison, 6,150 pounds is also roughly the weight of an African elephant or a Lincoln Navigator. 

“You’d think a half a truck load would be something that would be hard to misplace,” says co-owner Nick Wiseman, who values the missing shipment at $15,000. The timing, he says, is ironic. “We just got off ‘Chickpea Week’ at the restaurants, where we did a whole big video about our relationship with our chickpea farmer. At the conclusion, we realized we didn’t have chickpeas!” 

Little Sesame works with a single farm in Montana to source all of its chickpeas for its restaurants in Golden Triangle and Chinatown. “He’s an amazing grower,” Wiseman says. The farmer’s name is Casey Bailey. “It’s a unique relationship. I get selfies from him on his tractor.” They currently buy about 25,000 pounds a year from the farm and Wiseman expects that number to climb to 50,000 pounds by the end of the year.

Bailey shipped the 6,150 pounds of chickpeas on Jan. 30. UPS tracking shows record of them arriving in D.C. on Feb. 24, but they’re nowhere to be found. The package was last seen in Landover on Feb. 10.

While Wiseman says they’ll run out of chickpeas from Montana next week, his team has come up with a plan to get chickpeas from other farms so there will not be any interruption in sales at the restaurants. He also hopes that UPS insurance will cover the cost of the chickpeas so Bailey doesn’t lose out on revenue either. 

“What’s hard about it is he only grows a certain amount a year and we’re his only direct buyer,” Wiseman says. “A lot of the chickpeas are grown just for us. There’s not a lot of extra crop that can be rerouted. We’ll recover and he’ll recover and the relationship will live on, but it’s definitely a disruption.” 

If you’ve encountered three pallets of chickpeas on the streets of D.C. or anywhere between D.C. and Montana, contact Wiseman says the reward is a year of free hummus.