NorCal store with cult following brings love and sandwiches to Costa Mesa

NorCal store with cult following brings love and sandwiches to Costa Mesa

Life in the city of Costa Mesa just got a little more beautiful now that Ike’s is in town.

Locals on Friday celebrated the grand opening of Ike’s Love and Sandwiches, a San Francisco Bay Area phenomenon with a cult following that began expanding five years ago and has quickly established a fan base in Southern California.

“It’s literally anything you want in a sandwich, we don’t say no,” eponymous owner Ike Shehadeh said of the business concept on Friday. “We don’t have many basic sandwiches. It’s basically a sandwich you can’t make at home.”

Ike’s features a dizzying array of options for carnivores, vegetarians, vegans and gluten-free eaters, even offering halal menu items with intriguing names like “Backstabber,” “Name of the Girl I’m Dating,” and “Hollywould’s SF Cheesesteak.” In addition to offerings custom-built for an individual store, Shehadeh said employees can make any sandwich anywhere.

“Just say the name and number,” he advised.

Sandwich builders showcase Lou Brown and Crazy Chicken sandwiches on Friday at Ike's Love and Sandwiches in Costa Mesa.

Sandwich builders showcase Lou Brown and Crazy Chicken sandwiches on Friday at Ike’s Love and Sandwiches in Costa Mesa. The two sandwiches were created especially for the new location.

(Don Leach/Staff Photographer)

Sandwiched between stores at the Costa Mesa Courtyard on Newport Boulevard, the new location is the chain’s 83rd location and fourth in Orange County (stores in Newport Beach, Fountain Valley and Tustin opened in 2016), but it certainly won’t be the last, says CEO Michael Goldberg.

“One of our plans for 2022 was to really grow the Orange County market. We put our real estate team to close all the gaps [there], so we’re looking at other locations,” Goldberg said Friday, hinting at talks in Huntington Beach, Orange and Westminster.

Preparing for the grand opening on Friday, Costa Mesa Ike’s held a soft opening on January 3 to give team members a chance to train in real time and get used to the menu, which can feature anywhere from 40 to 50 creations.

Shehadeh created two special items especially for the new store. “Loco Chicken” is fried and served on a signature Dutch bun with Ike’s Chicken Loco sauce and pepper jack cheese. A vegetarian version of the same sandwich, the Lou Brown, can also be made vegan.

The

Sold only at Costa Mesa, the “pollo loco” is fried and served on a signature Dutch bun with Ike’s Pollo Loco sauce and pepper jack cheese.

(Don Leach/Staff Photographer)

Shehadeh said fans and foodies will visit new places just to sample the site’s specific offerings, which has spurred research into a smartphone app that would allow diners to catalog their consumption.

The look and feel of the business has evolved over time from the early days when Shehadeh, a San Francisco-area native, first hung a shingle in the city’s Castro District in 2007, selling a wide range of items under the name of Ike’s Place. ”

Sandwiches quickly became the draw and the topics food critics preferred to opine on, and customers lined up around the block for takeout service. A dispute over permitted uses of the space led to the closure of the San Francisco store in 2010.

The business was resurrected two years later under the new moniker Ike’s Love and Sandwiches to reflect the team spirit that had developed between loyal employees and patronage, and now has locations in six states.

Owner and founder Ike Shehadeh during the grand opening of Ike's Love and Sandwiches on Newport Boulevard in Costa Mesa on Friday.

The look of Ike’s Love and Sandwiches has evolved since owner Ike Shehadeh hung a shingle for Ike’s Place in San Francisco’s Castro District in 2007.

(Don Leach/Staff Photographer)

“It’s not ‘Sandwiches and love,’ love comes first,” he said Friday. “We’re serving love, we’re just doing it through a sandwich.”

Ike’s is also known for sandwiches named after celebrities. Inspired by meetings with personalities from Northern California, Shehadeh has created Steph Curry (turkey, barbecue sauce and provolone) for the Golden State Warriors superstar and Madison Bumgarner (steak, barbecue sauce, light habanero and pepper jack) for the former pitcher. of the Giants turned Arizona Diamond.

He is looking to replicate the process in SoCal and is open to other collaborations.

“I want to do something with Aaron Donald, but he doesn’t have my number,” Shehadeh joked about the LA Rams lineman. “Tell him to call me.”

To help cheer up Costa Mesa customers for Friday’s opening, the store gave out free sandwiches to the first 50 visitors and offered $6 sandwiches all day to customers lining up around the building to place their orders.

The kitchen is busy Friday during the grand opening of a new Ike's Love and Sandwiches on Costa Mesa's Newport Boulevard.

The kitchen is busy Friday during the grand opening of a new Ike’s Love and Sandwiches on Costa Mesa’s Newport Boulevard.

(Don Leach/Staff Photographer)

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