The line was 15 people deep when Ike’s Love & Sandwiches opened at 10 a.m. By lunchtime, it nearly stretched out the door of the Mountain View restaurant.
Whether attracted by the chance to claim one of 50 free sandwiches or by the opportunity to meet founder Ike Shehadeh himself, hundreds of Bay Area residents attended last week’s grand-opening celebration for the newest tenant of the Rengstorff Center.
“People seemed really stoked that we have one out here,” Shehadeh said during a pause in the Aug. 14 festivities.
It’s a homecoming of sorts for the 41-year-old Shehadeh, who attended Mills High School in Millbrae and at one time lived in a “little one-bedroom” off Castro Street in Mountain View. His wife, Marcella, graduated from Los Altos High School.
“I’m really excited to be here,” he said. “I went to high school on the Peninsula, so I played sports against the teams out here, in Palo Alto and beyond. This kind of feels, I don’t know how to put it. I used to be a kid out here and now I’m an adult out here, and it’s just an interesting experience.”
The opening marks 71 locations for the chain, which started in San Francisco in 2007. A dozen years later, Ike’s reach has expanded from Chico to San Diego in California and into Arizona, Texas, Nevada and even Hawaii. Nearby, there are shops in Cupertino, Palo Alto, Stanford, and San Jose, with another coming soon in Sunnyvale. As at other Ike’s restaurants, customers will find the decor (popping bright colors, classic kids’ lunch boxes affixed to walls), complimentary caramel apple pops and playfully named sandwiches that have become synonymous with the brand.
The staples are all here – “Matt Cain,” “Sometimes I’m a Vegetarian,” “Menage a Trois” – but the location will exclusively feature the “Larry Page & I Have the Same Birthday, So Basically I Invented Google Too” and “Judson Drive,” two sandwiches with names that invoke a playful nod to Mountain View.
So what’s Shehadeh’s go-to sandwich? Take note of the heart icons sprinkled across the menu for a clue.
He eats the “Madison Bumgarner,” a steak-based sandwich designed by the San Francisco Giants pitcher, the most, but his official favorite is the “Paul Reubens,” a concoction of pastrami, purple coleslaw, French dressing and Swiss cheese.
“It’s a West Coast-style reuben, which means it’s more condiment-focused instead of the three pounds of meat or whatever they put in on the East Coast,” he said.
Ike’s Love & Sandwiches is located at 1020 N. Rengstorff Ave. in the Rengstorff Center, which contains Costco. For more information, visit loveandsandwiches.com.