It was not that long ago (2007) that Ike's was a single sandwich place in San Francisco's Castro neighborhood with a long line of hungry and faithful customers who lined up all day long for one of Ike's large, creative, tasty sandwiches. On sunny weekend days, Ike's served as many as 1200 customers.
But the neighbors complained that there were just too many people going to Ike's. They put enough pressure on Ike that he had to leave that first location and relocate in another spot, not far away. Owner Ike Shehadeh's plight got not only local media attention, but even go written about in the New York Times.
Fast forward to today, a few years later, and Ike's now has at least 10 branches, the newest of which is in Walnut Creek. And, yes, there is a line out the door most of the day from their 11 a.m. opening until their 8 or 9 p.m. (depending on the day of the week) closing. I've read that Ike's is even expanding to southern California.
At the Walnut Creek Ike's there are a few tables inside and two tables outside on the sidewalk. And, yes, the line waiting to order can be long. Most customers take their sandwiches back to work or home, or eat on one of the public benches in downtown Walnut Creek.
My friend Kirsten, referring to their generous size, describes Ike's sandwiches as "dinner sandwiches" rather than "lunch sandwiches."
Jim and I had lunch today at Ike's and we both took home half of our sandwiches because they were bigger than we could eat for one lunch.
Jim had the "Name of the Girl I'm Dating," a combination of Avocado, Halal Chicken, Honey Mustard, and Pepper Jack. He had his sandwich on Dutch Crunch bread, said by many to be the best bread choice.
I, who can't pass up a tuna sandwich, had "Chipper's Fave," Tuna, America Cheese, and Avocado, on Whole Wheat.
The sandwiches have catchy names. Many are named for local sports icons. There are lots of vegetarian choices. Next time I might try the "Natalie Coughlin" (breaded eggplant, avocado, cheddar, and french dressing) or the "Going Home for Thanksgiving" (turkey, cranberry sauce, Havarti, Sriracha) or the "Paul Reubens" (pastrami, swiss, french dressing, poppy seed coleslaw), or the "Steve Young" (meatballs, bacon, marinara, pepper jack), or....who knows? So many choices.
At noon time the staff was efficient and friendly. Can't wait to try more.