Ike’s Place move-in date nears

May 27, 2010, 1:00 a.m.

Watch out, Subway. A new sandwich shop is coming to campus.

Ike’s Place, currently a popular, small eatery started in San Francisco’s Castro district, plans to open up shop in Stanford’s Science and Engineering Quad II in mid-August.

Ike’s Place was chosen along a “high number of bidders,” according to Marina Morilla, a contract specialist in University procurement. A committee of students and administrators ran a competitive selection process over the course of the past year, evaluating proposals and conducting follow-up interviews with potential businesses.

Ike's Place move-in date nears
Ike's Place, a popular sandwich shop, will move into the Huang engineering center in the Science and Engineering Quad in mid-August. (MASARU OKA/Staff Photographer)

According to Jackie Charonis, administrative services manager for the new quad, the targeted date for the eatery’s opening is Aug. 13, but it is still flexible until an official contract has been signed. Most eatery leases at Stanford last three to five years.

The sandwich shop’s original location in San Francisco and second location in Redwood City are known for lines that wrap around the corner, and for its giant-sized sandwiches.

“This ain’t your momma’s sandwich shop,” Ike’s website claims. The eatery’s owner, Ike Shehadeh, says every sandwich is uniquely made.

“We don’t finish baking the bread until they order it,” he said. “It’s 10 to 15 minutes old, rather than a day old.”

There are 183 different sandwich choices, with creative names ranging from the “Lizzy’s Lips” to “Do You Smell What Barack Is Cooking?” Each sandwich is smothered with a choice of a special “dirty sauce.”

The San Francisco shop says it attracts up to 1,200 customers on weekend days, and its sandwiches range in price from $8 to $15. According to Shehadeh, the wait time for a sandwich can range from anywhere from 20 minutes to two hours.

“The only time we’re not busy is when we’re closed,” he said.

A Bay Area native, Shehadeh had always wanted to own a business. However, the process to achieving his goal was initially a difficult one.

He got his first taste of the business world after dropping out of UC-Davis to run a supermarket in San Francisco in 1998. Leaving his college career as a computer science and engineering major, he made “a lot of money” by working instead of going to school.

Unfortunately, the supermarket went out of business in 2004. Shehadeh’s finances took a toll, but he remained committed to his plans of owning a business.

“I was homeless and jobless for awhile,” he said. “When I got back to work at the end of 2005, I had to work in different places.”

According to Shehadeh, he had no desire to work for others since he wanted to save his talents for himself rather than “making a bunch of money for someone else.”

“I didn’t think the companies I worked for had cared about their employees, so I didn’t want to help them make money,” he said.

Shehadeh worked for a variety of companies, including Trader Joe’s, Victoria’s Secret and Bebe.

His decision to open Ike’s Place was a result of wanting a small business that required less capital, he said. Self-sufficiency was an important goal, as he wanted to make the startup himself without worrying about hiring employees.

“I didn’t have much cash,” Shehadeh said. “I was taking a risk and I didn’t want to spend a lot of money. I wanted it to be minimal.”

With his goal in mind, he summoned his knowledge of flavors and combinations that “really worked well” as he experimented with various foods during his college years, and set out to open the shop now heading to campus.

“I love to cook,” Shehadeh said. “I love to mix new flavors and make something tasty.”

The Science and Engineering Quad is nearing completion on west campus; it sits on 8.2 acres adjacent to Via Ortega and Hewlett and Packard. It began as an estimated $375-million to $420-million project in 2006 and will house, among other spaces, the new headquarters of the School of Engineering.

Ellen Huet contributed to this report.

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