In five short years, Ike Shehadeh has gone from a complete unknown to one of the most important people in San Francisco. If you're wondering, "How can a dude who owns a sandwich shop be one of the most important people in the city?" you've clearly never eaten one his sandwiches.
Ike and his Chief Sandwich Officer Chase Ottney stopped by the Huffington Post's office to chat about his creative process, the bitter legal battle that almost shut down the burgeoning empire and how the time he spent homeless informs his recent charity work.
Tell us about the birth of Ike's Place. I got into real estate in 2006--right at the worst time to get into real estate. I got really bored with not actually selling anything, so I decided I wanted to open up a restaurant. After doing the research, I realized it's very expensive to do that. So I figured I'd turn all my recipes into sandwiches and open up a really small shop and be the only one who worked there. I wouldn't need a chef, servers or even frickin' furniture.
Were you always a chef? I really liked to taste. I liked to come up with crazy ingredients. My tongue gets addicted to flavors. I wouldn't say I'm a chef, but my number one experience on earth is to taste things.
Do you have a favorite sandwich to make for yourself? When I go out to eat, nine out of ten times those leftovers will end up in a sandwich. I went to Baby Blues the other night and had barbecue brisket, cornbread, creamed spinach and chicken wings. So I piled it all up and added dirty sauce and threw everything on Dutch Crunch bread.
What's the secret to your famous dirty sauce? We used to answer that question differently every time. We've said unicorn farts, fairy dust, love potion, crack cocaine. [Laughs] It's mainly garlic aioli, and the other stuff is secret. We bake it into the bread and we also spread it as mayo.
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