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June 30 could be sandwich shop Ike's Place's last day at Stanford

Uploaded: Jan 6, 2014
Ike's Place – a popular Bay Area sandwich chain known for its massive menu, "dirty sauce" and sandwiches named after local celebrities – could be vacating its location on the Stanford University campus this June.

Ike's Place has been slinging sandwiches from inside the Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center, on one corner of the Science and Engineering Quad, since 2009. The sandwich shop operates on a service contract (rather than a lease) that was set to expire on June 30 of this year. It could have been extended, but the space has instead been put up for bid, said Jamie Beckett, director of communications for the Stanford School of Engineering.

Ike's Place owner Ike Shehadeh said he was under the impression his contract did extend until 2016, making the June 30 end date seem sudden.

"Stanford does have an option to extend but (Ike's) has been in the space for three years, almost four, so we just thought that it would be a good idea and in the interest of students, faculty, staff and visitors to evaluate what options we have. It's kind of standard practice to look at the contract (once it ends)."

Shehadeh said he thought the persistently long lines at his ever-popular sandwich spot could have led Stanford to not extend the contract.

"From what it sounds like, it's the wait," he said. "When (people) go to Starbucks down in Tresidder (Student Union) and they see long lines, they respect Starbucks as a business so they don't see that as an inefficiency. They've had people come talk to me about better ways to run the business."

(Similarly, in 2010, Shehadeh's original San Francisco location in the Castro faced eviction, spurred by neighbors who were upset about the crowds of people constantly waiting in line outside their homes for a sandwich.)

Customers at any Ike's Place location can call in orders ahead of time and pick them up or use a free online app to do the same, but Shehadeh said that some on campus have been reluctant to use those options.

Beckett said that the Science and Engineering Quad recently sent out a survey to 900 students, faculty, staff and visitors to gauge what people look for in on-campus eating options.

Sixty-two percent of the 900 responses received said pricing should be in between $5 and $7.50 for lunch. Ike's sandwiches range from $7.97 to $19.91, with most hovering in the $9 to $12 range.

Sixty-seven percent also indicated any wait time should be about 5 to 10 minutes. Combine the fact that Ike's bakes its bread fresh, makes sandwiches to order (it's not a grab-and-go concept) and is incredibly popular and you have notoriously long waits during peak dining hours, much more than 10 minutes.

Forty-four percent of the survey responses received were from students, Beckett said.

An online petition, "Keep Ike's in Huang: We love our Dutch Crunch!", started circulating in late December, aiming for a goal of 1,000 signatures.

"For the betterment of the Stanford community, keep Ike's in the Huang Engineering Building," the petition reads. "Going to Ike's has become an integral part of the Stanford experience – as important as, say, biking through the Circle of Death and smooching at Full Moon on the Quad. We as a student body support Ike's and we're here to show it. Together we speak, listen up, you SEQ folk." (SEQ refers to the Science and Engineering Quad.)

Shehadeh said he believes a student started the petition. As of Jan. 6, 462 people had signed it.

"The students are wonderful," he said. "They treat me right. I'd love to stay there. I feel bad if Ike's is not going to end up being there."

Beckett said all bids for the space are due by Jan. 20. A committee made up of faculty, staff and students will evaluate proposals and make a final decision in March. (When Ike's went through the same process with a committee in 2009, Shehadeh said he received unanimous support from all the student members.)

Shehadeh said he plans to put in a bid to reclaim the Engineering Center space, but he's also open to relocating on campus or elsewhere in Palo Alto.

"I've been looking in Palo Alto, mainly on University, for on some time and the only reason I didn't open there in the last two years is because I didn't want to compete with the Stanford location and I didn't want Stanford to think I was competing with the Stanford location. I don't think that way anymore because I might not be there in June."

Ike's Place was born in San Francisco in 2007 and now operates nine locations throughout the Bay Area (one of which is also an on-campus eatery, at San Francisco State University).
What is it worth to you?


Posted by loverofIkes, a resident of Evergreen Park,
on Jan 8, 2014 at 9:45 am

This is really bad news. My kids and I love to pick up a sandwich and eat it on the oval. If they are kicked out I sure hope they can at least relocate somewhere closer...like Cal Ave:)

Posted by Robert Jackson, a resident of The Crossings,
on Jan 9, 2014 at 4:26 pm

Yes please. Ike's on California Ave would be terrific.

Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Jan 11, 2014 at 8:34 am

Ike's on California Ave with longer hours would be really nice.

Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto,
on Jan 12, 2014 at 8:19 pm

Hmmm is a registered user.

I can see both sides of this problem. Great sandwiches, but expensive to buy and time-consuming to purchase, although the calling ahead option is the best. If they move out of Stanford, they'll hopefully stay in the area.

Posted by Hmmmmmm, a resident of another community,
on Jan 13, 2014 at 12:06 pm

Well, the line is only OUT THE DOOR every single day due to it's popularity. Looks like the price point is fine. Getting rid of Ike's is absolutely NOT in anyone's best interest considering how popular it is. There goes Stanford/PA acting like brats, only 2 weeks into 2014.

Posted by that's weird, a resident of Woodside: other,
on Jan 13, 2014 at 12:46 pm

They have a facebook app for ordering and paying. Surely Stanford students are capable of thinking forward a few hours! It boggles my mind that anybody would complain about the wait when such a miniscule ordering effort is required.

Goodbye, Ike's. Hello Slap and Dash Cheapo Deli. The lines are shorter, but the food is generic. Yipee.

Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto,
on Jan 13, 2014 at 2:50 pm

Hmmm is a registered user.

No, the prices aren't fine - there are a lot of complaints about their prices that I've heard. Many of the employees, grad students and post-docs can't afford to spend $15 on lunch. OTOH, I think it's a bit weird - sheesh, just split a sandwich w/someone, bring your own water and fruit. It's pretty high quality food, and the overhead isn't cheap.

Even those who order ahead have had to wait, which is also why there are some complaints. But, Ike's doesn't like to admit that.

I hope that they figure out how to make it more workable. It's really one of the few not fancy places that appeals to nearly all palates and eating habits.

Posted by that's weird, a resident of Woodside: other,
on Jan 14, 2014 at 12:29 am

$15? I count something like 22 sandwiches under $8. Pricing is about comparable to Togo's large from my experience. I suppose with bacon, avocado, beverage, and mozzarella sticks it's not that hard to spend $15 but is all that really necessary?

I'm not a regular but the few times that I've used the pre-order I have not had to wait. Still I'll grant that I've come off peak....

Posted by Robin, a resident of Midtown,
on Jan 28, 2014 at 11:22 pm


Posted by Sandwich lover, a resident of Adobe-Meadows,
on Jan 31, 2014 at 5:47 pm

Just found this article while hunting for a good sandwich place.

Best place I know for sandwiches are La Baguette at Stanford and Pamplemousse in Redwood City.

Most other places are very much the same. Same list of choices of protein, same question "do you want everything on it" and the everything is the same list of indiscriminate choices that drown the taste of the protein.

What I would like to see are better sandwich ingredient choices. I would love to see smoked salmon, egg salad, shrimp, sausage, gourmet cheese as examples and apple slices, chutneys, various leaf greens, etc. as accompaniments depending on the flavors of the proteins rather than as much as you can fit between the bread to drown the taste of any one item in particular. I also would like to have the option of some of the items as a salad on the side.

Do you have any suggestions of where true gourmet sandwiches can be found? I would really appreciate it. Thank you in advance.

Posted by Elena Kadvany, a resident of another community,
on Feb 1, 2014 at 9:17 am

Elena Kadvany is a registered user.

Sandwich lover: I've never been to Pamplemousse! Those macaroons look to die for. Are you looking for "gourmet" sandwiches on the Peninsula? Cafe Borrone in Menlo Park has some excellent ones (I highly recommend the open face turkey melt). Ike's (locations on Stanford campus and in RWC) is really good, though I wouldn't call it "gourmet."

Posted by Sandwich lover, a resident of Adobe-Meadows,
on Feb 1, 2014 at 12:52 pm

Definitely recommend Pamplemousse for lunch as well as their desserts - which I have to stay away from. Their tarts (quiches) are fabulous and the salads are tasty. I do like the smoked salmon sandwich which has to be my favorite on their menu.

Looked at Café Borrone menu and it does sound good. I specifically fancy the Brie plate as being something more unusual.

I worry about being served something called "Swiss" cheese. The Swiss make many cheeses, all very different. Emmental is rather a sweet, nutty flavored cheese good to have with fruit. Gruyere has small holes and is used for quiches and fondues. They also have many smoked and cream cheeses, as well as blue cheeses. Anything called "swiss cheese" is probably manufactured far from the Alps.

Thanks for the tips and your blog.

Posted by Real Sandwich Lover, a resident of Stanford,
on Feb 11, 2014 at 12:49 pm


Posted by Ha, a resident of another community,
on Mar 8, 2014 at 10:55 am

Bakes its bread fresh? That's hilarious. As a former employee this is NOT true. They do toast it for you, but obviously that's not the same thing. Their sandwiches are extremely overpriced as far as the quality is concerned. Bleh...

Posted by Nyemi Yu, a resident of Stanford,
on Apr 18, 2014 at 7:56 pm


Posted by Sandwich aficionado, a resident of Old Palo Alto,
on Apr 28, 2014 at 6:53 pm

Ike's has made the best tasting sandwich I have ever had. Bar none.

Granted, always long lines but it also has people coming back for more. Price should not be a reason since even a footlong subway sandwich is around $8. Mind you, adding chips and drink to the same orser racks up the cost to $11+. Seems to me like there isn't justice to be had. Want a real survey? Survey everyone ordering and eating the sandwiches. That's a real testament to the worth.

Maybe then the University will see to it that Ike's stays.

Posted by Sandwich aficionado, a resident of Old Palo Alto,
on Apr 28, 2014 at 6:54 pm


Posted by ken, a resident of Stanford,
on May 5, 2014 at 11:33 am

Yes, the line can be long - but it will be long at Tressider as well. At lunch time, ordering ahead on Ike's apps ensure the least wait time compared to anywhere on campus. And that is not considering the fact that there are not many eateries within 3 minutes from the Engineering quad, where many people work or go to class.

Posted by capt obvious, a resident of Stanford,
on Aug 1, 2014 at 12:29 pm

Pretty simple to have a few additional staff helping out between 11am-2pm would've surely cut the lines down. I purposely avoiding driving down to Redwood City, because parking sucks and the lines were ridiculous. So instead of maybe hitting Ike's twice a month, I have a mental hurdle to get over the potential wait, so I go about once every 3 months. Ike's has a good problem - too much business, but they need to fix the wait. The comparison is not the same as Starbucks, because the morning wait is before our day has started, not when we only have X time for lunch. Wait time consumes that time to relax and eat.

Posted by Overpriced Sammies, a resident of College Terrace,
on Mar 28, 2015 at 4:48 pm

Ike's was good but the bread got soggy easily . . .liked it still. However, spending $10-15 on a sandwich made it feel more like "treat" to me than an "everyday" place. That's at least my take. For $15 I could get an awesome gourmet lunch downtown. When will there be an "everyday" sandwich place like Ike's around?! . . I'm waiting . . .

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