New star at Five and I
Aleef “Hollywood” Shehadeh, 35, has lived in Chico only since November, but he moved here with noble intent: to create delicious sandwiches. In March, he opened Ike’s Place across the street from Riley’s at the corner of West Fifth and Ivy streets. Shehadeh had previously managed multiple Bay Area locations of the restaurant that his brother, Ike Shehadeh, started. As he put it, he was his “brother’s assistant.” Founded in 2007, Ike’s Place has grown to five California locations: in Santa Rosa, San Francisco, San Diego, Los Angeles and, now, Chico. Each location has tailor-made menu items based on local historical figures and places. In addition to sandwiches, Ike’s serves burgers and also offers an extensive vegetarian menu. The CN&R recently sat down with Shehadeh to talk about the food, the decor and the business. To check out the menu, visit ilikeikesplace.com/chico or stop by and see for yourself at 648 W. Fifth St.
How’s the move treating you?
This is the farthest I’ve lived from [home]. I moved here in November of last year trying to help get the store opened. It was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. My brother wanted to open up a store out here and he wanted me to be an owner, so I moved out here.
You have some creative sandwich names and some pretty specific to Chico.
Whenever we open at a new location, we try to pick names that are friendly with the community, so to speak, or that the community will relate to. We also try to create new sandwiches. Like “The Bidwell” is exclusively here because Bidwell was a big influence on this community.
Have you named or created any sandwiches?
The “Hollywood Ultimate Cheesesteak.” Every time I used to go out anywhere, I would always eat a cheesesteak. So when it came time for my brother to open a sandwich shop, he instinctively made a cheesesteak for me, and I’ve been making tweaks to it ever since. This one is exclusive to Chico. Since I love Philly cheesesteaks, I love bell peppers and I always want bell peppers. We used to have it [with bell peppers] a long time ago, but we didn’t continue that. When we came here, because it was my store, I was like, “I want bell peppers.”
You’re open late on weekends—is that a marketing strategy?
We started being open late Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays because, obviously, the kids are out pretty late. We wanted to try to tap in on that and get some extra business.
Your face is painted on the wall. What’s the story there?
We had a friend from the Bay Area come paint our walls and she was like, “Since it’s his store and he did all this work, can I put his face up?” I went away for a couple of days and my face was on the wall.