On October 19, Chicago residents Lance Frericks and Chris Custer will open the first Illinois location of marijuana-themed sandwich shop Cheba Hut at 1948 W Division Street in Wicker Park. The “toasted” sub shop offers over 30 signature sub sandwiches, as well as a variety of Rice Krispy treats, salads and munchies along with a full service bar. Drinks like the Dirty Hippie, Hot Box and Cheba Rita are all Cheba Hut signatures while the beer will feature a mix of national and Windy City favorites including PipeWorks, Lagunitas, Half Acre, Revolution, and Goose Island.

Frericks and Custer, longtime friends who met on the floor of the Chicago Board of Trade, will host a grand opening VIP event at their new Hut the weekend of October 19, introducing local media and influencers to the brand’s homegrown food in a relaxed environment. During the VIP event and when the shop officially opens for business, Cheba Hut will closely enforce current COVID-19 guidelines, including heightened sanitation protocols, adhering to social distancing requirements in the shop, and requiring all guests and staff to wear face masks. The event will feature two different time slots (6:00 p.m to 7:15 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., with a 15-minute cleaning period in between) to ensure the number of guests never rises above 40 percent occupancy. On arrival, guests will have the option of sitting on Cheba Hut’s outdoor patio with heaters or inside.

Breaking into the Chicago market is a huge development milestone for the marijuana-themed and Arizona-originated sandwich shop, whose previous Midwest representation consisted of a single shop in Madison, Wisconsin. In particular, for Cheba Hut Chief Relationship Officer and area native Seth Larsen, Cheba Hut coming to Chicago represents a long-term goal achieved.

“This is something I’ve personally been trying to make happen for a long time, and our new franchise partners are the perfect ones for the job,” Larsen said.

Cheba Hut has been escaping the established and getting “toasted” since its founding in 1998. The brand has broken the mold of mundane fast-casual concepts and set itself apart by becoming the first marijuana-themed sandwich “joint” (pun intended). Cheba Hut is dedicated to combining locally sourced ingredients with a chill, eclectic environment where genuine food is served by genuine people.

Custer and Frericks were first introduced to the brand when they were looking into investing in a rival sandwich concept. Custer had long been interested in opening a restaurant but didn’t feel passionate about any of the options available to him—until he found Cheba Hut.

“I looked into the brand and just fell in love with the concept,” Custer said. “The numbers looked super compelling and I thought there was a lot of opportunity for the brand in our city––it was the laid-back theme and vibe that really caught my eye.”

Frericks was also intrigued by Cheba Hut’s cannabis theme and thought that investing in the brand was a no-brainer with the Green Wave currently sweeping the nation. “Marijuana is legal in Illinois and CBD is one of the biggest things on the market right now, so I think Cheba Hut and its overall theme coming to Chicago couldn’t be better timed,” said Frericks.

Fast Casual, Franchising, Growth, News, Cheba Hut