A maverick with a dream opened Ike’s Love & Sandwiches in The Castro on November 3, 2007. Fifteen years later, the world celebrates National Sandwich Day on November 3, which we don’t think is a coincidence. Ike Shehadeh changed the sandwich game forever with his creative sandwiches, iconic Dirty Sauce, and GOAT like attitude.
As a nod to our humble beginnings, Ike’s Love & Sandwiches is featuring two sandwiches from the very first Ike’s menu with throwback pricing to celebrate both Ike’s 15 Year Anniversary and National Sandwich Day. Elvis Kieth and Handsome Owl are both available for $7.97 from Thursday, November 3 – Sunday, November 6. Both sandwiches will be available in-store, online and through the Ike’s rewards app in the “Specials” category.
Elvis Kieth is made with Halal Chicken, Teriyaki, Wasabi Mayo, Swiss cheese and served hot with Dirty Sauce, lettuce, and tomato. Plant-based and vegetarian sandwiches have been part of Ike’s since the first day we opened. Handsome Owl is a vegetarian version of Elvis Kieth with Vegan Chicken, Teriyaki, Wasabi Mayo, Swiss cheese, served hot with Dirty Sauce, lettuce, and tomato.
Ike Shehadeh says Elvis Kieth built Ike’s into what it is today, “Elvis Kieth was the first cool sandwich I ever made and inspired every one of the 800 sandwiches that came after it. I took one of my best-selling sandwiches, a teriyaki chicken with Swiss cheese on a croissant and gave it a glow up with two things I was obsessed with at the time: Yoshinoya’s Sweet Savory Sauce and Trader Joe’s Wasabi Mayo. The first time I tried that combination, it opened my eyes to a whole world of possibilities, and it taught me things that we still use to make new sandwiches. Get creative with sauces and cook them into the sandwich. Build each sandwich to make every bite delicious. We can make a kick-ass vegetarian version of every sandwich. And, sandwiches should have a fun name. I loved that sandwich so much I named it Elvis Kieth because it was my nick name in high school. I used to say, ‘ooo, ooo, ooo’ and friends started calling me the Ugly Owl, which is what I named the vegetarian version…but I’m the face of a company with almost 100 locations so now it’s the Handsome Owl.”
Ike’s Love & Sandwiches has grown a lot in 15 years from a small sandwich shop in the Castro to almost 100 locations in 6 states. In the early days, even before the first Ike’s location, Ike had a few random encounters that shaped 15 years and over 4,000,000 sandwiches sold a year:
The Secret Technique – Ike met an older woman in the Mission near where Ike was selling sandwiches out of a grocery store. She said her family had a deli for a while and offered Ike their secret to success: they baked mayo into the bread but wouldn’t tell people they did that because not everyone liked mayo. Ike tried it and she was right. It made a delicious sandwich more amazing by adding both texture and flavor. When Ike developed Dirty Sauce, he remembered her and started toasting it straight onto the bread. Now that’s part of the secret; cooking the sauces into the sandwich is way tastier than just putting them on cold.
Dirty Sauce Accident – A customer came into Ike’s old sandwich shop and asked for a salami and cheddar sandwich but wanted it on something that tasted like garlic bread. Ike likes to make everyone happy so he looked around at what he had behind the counter and said, "I can come up with something.” He threw together a quick sauce, spread it on the bread, toasted it and gave it to the guy. Ike didn’t think about it again until the next day when the same guy came back. He said that it was the best sandwich he ever had and wanted the exact same thing again. Luckily, Ike had some left-over sauce from the day before, made another sandwich but this time he tasted it. He immediately decided everything was going to get this sauce baked into the bread. He tweaked and experimented with the sauce which is today’s iconic Dirty Sauce and it’s still toasted right onto the signature Dutch Crunch bread.
Million Dollar Face – Ike was working at his sandwich counter in the Mission when a woman walked by his window, saw him out of the corner of his eye, stopped and walked backwards to the door to get a better look. She asked, “Do you have an agent? You have a million-dollar face. Your face needs to be on billboards.” That moment inspired him. Ike hasn’t received his Oscar nomination yet, but his face is inside of every Ike’s location and on every bag.
If you’ve never been to Ike’s Love & Sandwiches before, there really is no comparison. These are the sandwiches of your dreams. We’re about love first, then sandwiches, which is why we take extra special care to make sure we have great options for every kind of eater. No other restaurant in the world has more kick-ass options and endless combinations for meat lovers, vegetarian, vegan, halal, and gluten-free. Our Dutch Crunch bread paired with Ike’s incomparable “Dirty Sauce,” a creamy garlic aioli toasted right into the bread, is a transcendent experience that will electrify your tastebuds. Ike’s Love & Sandwiches has been voted the best sandwiches in the world (by Ike’s mom).
Ike spends hours creating the menu for each new location with exclusive and iconic sandwiches, menus, and a custom Instagram wall that are connected to the city & community. Each menu comes with exclusive sandwich offerings created just for that location that are eclectically named as a tribute to local celebrities and icons.