by Paige Shacklett
SCOTTSDALE- Spring training isn’t the only thing bringing Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner to the Valley of the Sun. Ike’s Love and Sandwiches imports the Bay-area pitchers all year long.
Owner Ike Shehadeh abandons all the familiarities of the usual sandwich shop, from his famous “Ike’s Dirty Secret Sauce” to the names he dubs his creations. It didn’t take long for local athletes and professional organizations to take notice of their popularity.
In 2009, then-Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum was up for the Cy Young award. Shehadeh said a member of the Giants marketing team reached out to him about making a new sandwich with Lincecum’s name if he won.
“I was stunned like ‘Woah, somebody actually wants to get a sandwich named after them? And somebody that I’ve looked up to?’ It was an amazing experience,” Shehadeh said.
As history shows, Lincecum earned his second consecutive Cy Young and his sandwich has been on Ike’s menu since.
“I remember when I first got the poster back with his signature and his sandwich on it. I framed it,” Shehadeh said. “I have it in my house. I photocopied it so I could put the photocopy on the wall in the stores.”
“After we had that (Tim’s sandwich) on the menu, we had Matt Cain come in a few weeks later and (he) was wondering ‘Oh Lincecum’s got a sandwich, like what’s up with that? How can I get that to happen?’ ” Shehadeh said.
(Video by Ryan Curry/Cronkite News)
Cain, a veteran right-handed pitcher, said he had heard about Ike’s sandwiches and decided to check out the original location. He remembers a slightly different version of the origination of the Matt Cain sandwich, which includes roast beef, salami, turkey and provolone cheese with Godfather sauce — described as a mild, creamy horseradish Dijon mayo.
“They had a couple of sandwiches, and they were wondering if they could name something after me because they had a sandwich that didn’t have a name that they’d already kind of built,” Cain said. “So we just kind of tweaked it a little bit and loved it and went with it.”
Bay-area born and bred, Ike’s Love and Sandwiches opened in 2007 and in the last decade has grown to thirty-seven locations throughout California. He recently expanded into Arizona with locations in Phoenix, Scottsdale, Mesa, and Tempe.
“At first, people were like ‘Hey man, I’m about to have your sandwich at Ike’s and I was like, ‘wait a minute, you’re in Scottsdale or Tempe right now?’ ” Cain said. “It’s cool to see his (Ike’s) franchise has grown and grown.”
Shehadeh wa crafting funky sandwiches long before he opened his first shop in the Castro District of San Francisco.
“It started when I was 3 years old and I used to make myself peanut butter and mayonnaise sandwiches, which now, doesn’t sound amazing,” Shehadeh said. “But I remember back then, they were amazing. I would go through my refrigerator and just take all the ingredients that were in there and put them in between bread, and I took that love all the way through college.”
After an unsuccessful grand-opening day with absolutely no sales, Ike’s Love and Sandwiches hasn’t had a slow day, Shehadeh said. He remembered the early days at the original sole locations where fans would wait hours in line to purchase their favorite sandwich.
“When I opened, I didn’t know that my food was going to be received as it is,” Shehadeh said.
As the franchise developed, the list of athletes and celebrities gracing the menu grew. There is the Marilyn Monroe. The Pat Tillman. The Madison Bumgarner. The Stephen Curry. A Barry Bonds. A Steve Jobs. The Tom Brady and a John Wayne.
Shehadeh, a Giants fan himself, isn’t afraid of stepping on the toes of rivals as he moves out of San Francisco territory and into the domains of other Major League Baseball organizations.
“Madison Bumgarner is my favorite sandwich, so it’s going to be on the menu in LA,” Shehadeh said. “It’s going to be on the menu in Dodgertown. It’s going to be on the menu in Diamondback town. It’s going to be on the menu everywhere we go.”