Now, what better way is there to chase away the winter doldrums than embracing … the chickpea? Durham resident Sue Andresen is doing just that. She’s hosting the first “(Great) Chickpea Challenge,” an informal potluck and cooking competition, at her home (148 Solterra Way, 489-8162, at 6:30 p.m. Saturday.

“We host a vegan potluck every month,” she says, “but this is the first time we’ve had a theme. I just kept seeing recipes including chickpeas and was amazed with the variety and versatility.”

So if you desire garbanzo greatness, show up with your dish (enough to feed four times the number in your party), as well as your recipe. It can be an appetizer, dessert, whateveras long as it’s vegan and contains chickpeas. Prizes will be awarded.

In restaurant news, John Vandergrift and Chris Stinnett, the chef/ owners of Rue Cler (401 E. Chapel Hill St., Durham, 682-8844,, Pop’s (810 W. Peabody St., Durham, 956-7677, and Pop’s Backdoor, are moving Pop’s to West Village and opening another Pop’s Back Door location in southwest Durham.

Stinnett says the new Pop’s space will have the same feel as the oldbrick walls, open kitchenbut will seat more than 200, an increase of about 50 seats. The new Pop’s will also offer a bigger menu and a longer wine list. Pop’s Backdoor will stay where it is at 810 W. Peabody St., and the partners will use the old Pop’s as an event space, available for rent. Also, they plan to open another Pop’s Backdoor in the Shannon Plaza Shopping Center on Shannon Road. They hope to move Pop’s, including their beloved oven, to West Village by the end of April. “Before graduation,” Stinnett says.

By springtime, Jake and Shannon Wolf plan to open Capital Club 16, a traditional American restaurant with European influences, on the ground floor of the Capital Club Building at 16 W. Martin St., in Raleigh. Jake Wolf, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, will be the chef. He has experience in kitchens in Atlanta, Telluride and Germany. Most recently, he spent almost five years as the executive chef at Zum Schneider in New York City. He hopes to meld his classical training, international cooking experience and his family’s homestyle cooking into Capital Club 16’s menu. The restaurant will serve lunch Monday through Friday and dinner Monday through Saturday. It will have a full bar, outside seating and a private event room.

In Cary, Derek Wilkins has opened a franchise of the New Hampshire-based company The Meat House (1225 Kildaire Farm Road, 465-3082, It offers traditional butcher services and stocks premium meats, including beef, poultry, veal and pork, and sometimes carries exotic meats (buffalo, venison, alligator and ostrich). The store carries Boar’s Head deli products, wine, cheese, produce, breads, side dishes and desserts, too.

And finally, Kelly Finn is turning off the ovens at Cakewalk Carrboro (260-9416,, her cupcake delivery service, after Valentine’s Day. She’s still accepting orders until then, so try her creations while you can.

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