The wait is over, Modesto. You can now sink your teeth into your own Ike’s sandwich as the popular Bay Area chain opens its first location in the city.
The Modesto Ike’s Love & Sandwiches shop, near the corner of McHenry and Briggsmore avenues, is the second to debut in the region. The first in Turlock opened in the Monte Vista Crossings shopping center in early December.
Founder and namesake Ike Shehadeh opened his first sandwich shop, then called Ike’s place, Halloween 2007 in San Franciso’s Castro District. Since then the chain has expanded and gained a cult following for its large sandwiches and diverse toppings. Shehadeh’s smiling, goateed face serves as a logo for the restaurants, emblazoned on its signs and walls.
Like all of its locations, Ike’s offers a plethora of sandwich combinations. While the menu on the wall features a limited number of the offerings, customers can always order any of the Ike’s more than 700 specialty sandwiches (or create their own). Sandwiches generally range in price from $7.97 to around $11.11. Chips and drinks can be added to any sandwich combo for $2.92.
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Many of the sandwiches are named for celebrities, like the Paul Reubens (a reuben named after the comic actor) and the Damon Bruce (a steak and onion ring sandwich named after a Bay Area sports radio host). All of its chicken is halal, meaning it is prepared as prescribed by Muslim law. And the menu has an assortment of vegetarian and vegan choices.
The signature on any Ike’s sandwich is its “Dirty Sauce,” a creamy garlic aioli that is toasted into the bread before service. The custom-made bread comes in soft Dutch crunch, French, sourdough, whole wheat or gluten-free rolls. You can add everything from bacon and avocado to grilled mushrooms, jalapeno poppers, mozzarella sticks and fried zucchini to your sandwich.
“We can do a simple meat and cheese if you want,” said Paul Fitzpatrick, training director for Ike’s. “But we also have so much more to offer.”
Each shop also has an exclusive ingredient which goes into two or three site-specific sandwiches. In Modesto, those sandwiches are the Graffiti Pete (chicken, sweet wing sauce and pepper jack cheese) and the Susan Murphy (vegan chicken, sweet wing sauce and provolone cheese). The former pays homage to Modesto’s “American Graffiti” past and the later is named after the lead character in the 2009 animated feature “Monsters vs. Aliens,” who hailed from Modesto in the movie.
The Modesto site, in the space of the old Freebirds World Burrito in the same complex as Rite Aid, boards the same colorful decor as the Turlock site — which was also an old Freebirds. Metal lunch boxes line the walls, and large photos of the sandwiches are there to entice diners to try something new. The restaurant has seating for about 65, and hired a staff of 17.
Elsewhere on the Business Beat:
String’s Italian Cafe reopened last month after an extended closure for remodeling.
The northeast Modesto restaurant closed for remodeling in early August. The Italian eatery was slated to reopen in September, but longtime owner Bill Yassin said work took longer than expected. The prolonged closure had many readers worried the restaurant, which first opened in The Lakes Shopping Center on Oakdale Road in 1992, would never reopen.
The interior has been fully remodeled, Yassin said, to a more contemporary, brighter dining atmosphere. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday to Thursday and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. For more information call 209-578-9777.