the end of a Castro institution, Ike’s Place closes its flagship store on 16th Street
I drove by Ike’s Place on my way home from work yesterday, to bid Ike farewell. Owner Ike Shehadah had announced early that morning that this would be the last day of operation in the Castro, closing the only San Francisco location of this phenomenon of a sandwich shop, and the inaugural store. The queue for the last Ike’s sandwich stretched nearly to the end of a very long block, even at 8.30pm. The crowd was doing front to back waves to pass the time. Shehadeh lamented to EATERSF that a handful of neighbors had pushed-out not only his business but the 47 people he employed. And I think he’s right. He’s a superstar in a neighborhood that has always supported local entrepreneurs and business while trying to minimize the presence of big, national retail chains. Ike succeeded in drawing national attention (and tourists) to the Castro for his unique and wonderful food. Sure, maybe this store front wasn’t ideal, but there are so many available spots within blocks, I wish he would’ve relocated locally. These days the Castro has a lot of empty storefronts due in part to this slumping economy, so if the neighborhood purports to favor local business to national chains, why is it that Ike has failed to find another location right here for his shop? The neighborhood should reflect on that and when they find an answer, maybe the Castro will become more friendly to other local entrepreneurs, too.