Gourmet Sandwiches for Everyone

By Jennifer Iscol

Ike’s Place
Locations: Cupertino, Danville, Oakland, Salinas, San Francisco, San Francisco State University, Santa Clara, Santa Rosa, Stanford University. Opening soon: Foster City and Walnut Creek


Ahead of the trend
A month after Ike Shehadeh opened his first sandwich shop in San Francisco in 2007, a woman with celiac disease came in and requested a salad. Ike only wants to serve sandwiches, but he is a man with a big heart who wants to be able to serve everyone a sandwich, so he spent a couple of months researching gluten-free breads and quickly developed a gluten-free menu. Five and a half years later, Ike has 24 gluten-free sandwiches on his menu, and over 50 different gluten-free ingredients.

Menu options for everyone
Overlapping with the awe-inspiring main menu, Ike’s not only has a selection of gourmet sandwiches for those who need gluten-free, but also vegetarian, vegan and halal (foods allowed under Islamic dietary guidelines). Do you have a food allergy, too? Ike’s keeps a list of ingredients and allergens at the register to help the well-informed cashier guide your choices. The gluten-free sandwiches are made on rolls from Mariposa Baking, with Food for Life Brown Rice Bread for backup. Ike estimates that 10% of all sandwiches he sells at some locations are gluten-free.

How gluten-free is it really?
We LOVE this part! Each Ike’s Place has a gluten-free “kit” for making celiac-safe sandwiches, and a designated area where only the gluten-free ones are prepared. Hand washing, fresh gloves, separate condiments, knives and utensils are all part of the process. Of course, it is a busy place with plenty of gluten in the environment, so there is always some risk. However, Ike’s seems to truly take the commitment and staff training seriously.

Location, location, and more locations
Ike’s Place has nine locations around the Bay Area and 400 employees. Two more locations are opening within the month in Foster City and Walnut Creek, and three more are in the pipeline. Additional expansion is very likely.

But are the sandwiches good, really good?
Ike’s has over 4,700 reviews on Yelp; 3,000 of them are feverishly adoring five-star reviews and another thousand are four-star. If that isn’t enough evidence for you, check out all the awards and media coverage on Ike’s press page. Still not convinced? You might want to visit an Ike’s Place and experience it for yourself.