As popular sandwich shop Ike’s Place’s prepared to close its doors Monday night, thousands of hungry customers braved multiple hour long lines for their last chances at Fat Bastards, Ex-Boyfriends and Menage-a-trois.
“We need to wait and see until the end,” said Ike Shehadeh, the owner and namesake of the sandwich shop located on 16th Street that has become well-known throughout San Francisco for making elaborate sandwiches with tongue-in-cheek names.
Shehadeh spent the night serving, thanking and hugging customers who had waited hours to order. As he passed through the kitchen to hand two freshly wrapped sandwiches to customers eagerly awaiting outside his door, he estimated that at 2,000 customers had passed through during the day. “At the very least,” he said.
After repeated complaints had been filed by neighbors about noise, trash and large crowds, Shehadeh was ordered to close Ike’s Place by 6:00 a.m. on Tuesday, September 14 by the Superior Court of California. But before that hour, the lines grew and customers waited for their last sandwich at 16th Street.
“We’ve been waiting for four hours,” said customer Val Gatchalian, who anxiously remained in line well after the 12:00 a.m. posted cutoff. “We’ve past the point of no return.”
“I drove out here from Emeryville,” said Marlo Johnson, who waited in line a few dozen people behind Gatchalian. It seemed easier to win concert tickets by calling into a radio station than to get a sandwich at Ike’s, he said.
He and his friends all echoed “Menage-a-trois” when asked what they were planning on ordering, dismissing the question as if eating the Halal chicken breast sandwich with honey, pepper jack cheese, Swiss and Gouda were a given.
Not all who braved the long lines were as sure of their decision to wait. One customer, who declined to give his name, said that had he known it would take so long, he would have just ordered a super burrito from a nearby taqueria. But, he stayed and others in line did as well.
“When I showed up at 7:00 p.m., there was a line all the way down to Market Street,” said Jordan Hester, an Ike’s Place employee who was tasked with cutting off the the line to order after midnight. “I saw a guy getting people to do the wave. There was even someone celebrating her birthday here tonight.”
Hester worked his first night at Ike’s on Monday, and only received word on Saturday that it would be the last day. As he recalled how he and six others started their first days there on Monday, Hester seemed optimistic about Ike’s chances to reopen quickly at a new location.
As of 12:45 a.m., there was still a line of nearly 100 people long waiting and hoping to order a sandwich—and little sign from Shedadeh and his staff of slowing down.
Though there is still no word on a new location, Shedadeh promised customers that he wouldn’t be closed for long. “Soon,” he graciously reassured one customer after hugging her goodbye. “We’ll be back open soon.”