Bay Area sandwich shop Ike’s Place to expand to Berkeley

Ike Shehadeh/The New York Times/Courtesy

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Ike’s Place, a popular Bay Area-based food chain known for its interesting sandwich names, such as the “Bruce Wayne” and the “Barry Bonds,” will expand to Berkeley in the coming months.

Ike Shehadeh originally opened Ike’s Place in San Francisco in 2007, but the sandwich shop chain is making its way to Berkeley because Shehadeh believes college students are “fans” of Ike’s. Though there is no timeline for the opening of the Berkeley location, Shehadeh anticipates that it will happen in about three months.

“(I want) to bring delicious sandwiches to everywhere I go,” Shehadeh said. “Profits (are) not my motivation. … Taking care of our fans and sharing love through food (are).”

Shehadeh is in the preliminary stages of opening Ike’s Berkeley location. Though a lease for the location has been signed, as of yet, the business has not obtained permits to operate. Shehadeh declined to give information regarding the location of the new sandwich shop.

There will be no student discounts at the Berkeley location, according to Shehadeh, but there will be promotions, such as Ike’s “Love You Hour,” which could take the form of free beverages and chips.

Though Ike’s Place is very popular around the Bay Area — with 20 locations including San Francisco, Oakland and Emeryville — existing sandwich stores in Berkeley do not seem to mind Ike’s expansion into the city.

“All we can do is produce our product, and if the students like our product, they’ll come, and if they don’t, we’ll need to make changes or do what we need to do,” said Darren Ho, owner of Montague’s Gourmet Sandwiches on Channing Way.

But Sam Juha, owner of Cheese ‘n’ Stuff on Durant Avenue, said the arrival of Ike’s will not affect his business, as the sandwiches are different and Ike’s prices are higher.

Residents from around the East Bay had mixed reactions to the announcement of the new Ike’s location.

Vanessa Rivas, a resident of Emeryville, went to Ike’s Emeryville location during its opening week. She said that it took 35 to 45 minutes for her to receive her sandwich and that the sandwich quality was poor, though she attributed these problems to new employees who were not used to the high customer volume.

Rivas said she is willing to go back and give Ike’s another try, and is nonetheless excited at the prospect of its new location in Berkeley.

Berkeley resident James Kirby said he has been going to Ike’s Place since its original San Francisco location opened. Though he said he is excited about a location in his own city, he hopes Ike’s will be transparent about its ingredients as it expands.

“As they get bigger and bigger, they can go in two directions — they can turn into just another chain … or they can have strong values,” Kirby said.

Ike’s Place has plans to expand even beyond Berkeley. Many new locations in California are set to open soon, Shehadeh said, including in Chico, Rockridge, a third location in San Jose and a third location in San Francisco.

“If they haven’t already eaten Ike’s, now they won’t have an excuse (for) not having eaten there,” Shehadeh said.

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