Newly-opened Ike's Place brings choices and competition to SF State

Ike's SFSU

Patrons wait in the long lunch rush line at the newly opened Ike's Place in the Cesar Chavez Student Center. Some patrons can wait up to 20 minutes to just get to the front of the line. Photo by Gil Riego Jr.

Story by Caitlin Byrne, special to Xpress

It has been featured in eight articles in The New York Times, 7×7 Magazine’s “100 Things to Eat Before You Die” and a number of restaurant reviews, all hailing Ike’s as the best sandwich in San Francisco. So naturally, Ike’s taking its place at SF State has been a highly-anticipated event.

March 1, the campus community was finally rewarded for its patience when the sandwich shop made its soft grand opening in the Cesar Chavez Student Center.

The crowd that gathered in anticipation of the restaurant opening decreased significantly upon the announcement that only cash would be accepted; the number of people in line fell nearly by half.

Despite the cash-only mandate, which will not be permanent, Ike’s Place estimated that they sold around 560 sandwiches on their first day.

Many students heard about the partial opening the night before through social media, and lined up to finally get a taste of what the sandwich shop had to offer.

“I’ve never been to one [Ike’s] before. They told us about it on Facebook, so after class I decided to come,” said 24-year-old broadcast and electronic arts major Holly Abraham. “I first heard about it last semester; it took so long [to open].”

Abraham also noted that several people had to leave because the restaurant accepted only cash.

For students who are looking for work, Ike’s could offer an opportunity for employment—so long as they have a relatively flexible schedule.

“We’re using the Ike’s on 16th as the flagship; we train people there and send them here,”  Ike’s manager Patrick Maniere said. “About 70 percent of our employees here go to SF State. We’re open to students, but it’s more about their availability.”

The SF State campus community is curious to see how Ike’s will match up against other nearby sandwich vendors. Some are simply excited for increased lunchtime variety.

“I think that any new culinary option on campus is both needed and appreciated,” said women’s track and field coach Terry Burke. “By reputation, Ike’s has great sandwiches, and would be a place at which I would look forward to eating.”

But after taking into account the number of sandwich shops already operating on campus, some students anticipate a clash of the campus cold cuts.

“I think the new sandwich shop is going to cause competition between Subway and Ike’s sandwiches. It will be a hit at first because it is somewhere new to eat on campus,” said 22-year-old physiology major Sarah Catania.

Allam El Qadah is the owner of the Village Market and Café Rosso. Both of his establishments’ menus offer sandwiches, and El Qadah welcomes the challenge Ike’s Place will pose in terms of attracting customers.

Competition is not a bad thing for the campus. It puts you on edge. It will impact us positively on campus,” El Qadah said. “We have a well-known brand; our quality and product will stand for itself. It’s what my dollar’s worth. That’s what we reinforce.”

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