Ike's Place has been slinging sandwiches from inside the Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center, on one corner of the Science and Engineering Quad, since 2009. The sandwich shop operates on a service contract (rather than a lease) that was set to expire on June 30 of this year. It could have been extended, but the space has instead been put up for bid, said Jamie Beckett, director of communications for the Stanford School of Engineering.
Ike's Place owner Ike Shehadeh said he was under the impression his contract did extend until 2016, making the June 30 end date seem sudden.
"Stanford does have an option to extend but (Ike's) has been in the space for three years, almost four, so we just thought that it would be a good idea and in the interest of students, faculty, staff and visitors to evaluate what options we have. It's kind of standard practice to look at the contract (once it ends)."
Shehadeh said he thought the persistently long lines at his ever-popular sandwich spot could have led Stanford to not extend the contract.
"From what it sounds like, it's the wait," he said. "When (people) go to Starbucks down in Tresidder (Student Union) and they see long lines, they respect Starbucks as a business so they don't see that as an inefficiency. They've had people come talk to me about better ways to run the business."
(Similarly, in 2010, Shehadeh's original San Francisco location in the Castro faced eviction, spurred by neighbors who were upset about the crowds of people constantly waiting in line outside their homes for a sandwich.)
Customers at any Ike's Place location can call in orders ahead of time and pick them up or use a free online app to do the same, but Shehadeh said that some on campus have been reluctant to use those options.
Beckett said that the Science and Engineering Quad recently sent out a survey to 900 students, faculty, staff and visitors to gauge what people look for in on-campus eating options.
Sixty-two percent of the 900 responses received said pricing should be in between $5 and $7.50 for lunch. Ike's sandwiches range from $7.97 to $19.91, with most hovering in the $9 to $12 range.
Sixty-seven percent also indicated any wait time should be about 5 to 10 minutes. Combine the fact that Ike's bakes its bread fresh, makes sandwiches to order (it's not a grab-and-go concept) and is incredibly popular and you have notoriously long waits during peak dining hours, much more than 10 minutes.
Forty-four percent of the survey responses received were from students, Beckett said.
An online petition, "Keep Ike's in Huang: We love our Dutch Crunch!", started circulating in late December, aiming for a goal of 1,000 signatures.
"For the betterment of the Stanford community, keep Ike's in the Huang Engineering Building," the petition reads. "Going to Ike's has become an integral part of the Stanford experience as important as, say, biking through the Circle of Death and smooching at Full Moon on the Quad. We as a student body support Ike's and we're here to show it. Together we speak, listen up, you SEQ folk." (SEQ refers to the Science and Engineering Quad.)
Shehadeh said he believes a student started the petition. As of Jan. 6, 462 people had signed it.
"The students are wonderful," he said. "They treat me right. I'd love to stay there. I feel bad if Ike's is not going to end up being there."
Beckett said all bids for the space are due by Jan. 20. A committee made up of faculty, staff and students will evaluate proposals and make a final decision in March. (When Ike's went through the same process with a committee in 2009, Shehadeh said he received unanimous support from all the student members.)
Shehadeh said he plans to put in a bid to reclaim the Engineering Center space, but he's also open to relocating on campus or elsewhere in Palo Alto.
"I've been looking in Palo Alto, mainly on University, for on some time and the only reason I didn't open there in the last two years is because I didn't want to compete with the Stanford location and I didn't want Stanford to think I was competing with the Stanford location. I don't think that way anymore because I might not be there in June."
Ike's Place was born in San Francisco in 2007 and now operates nine locations throughout the Bay Area (one of which is also an on-campus eatery, at San Francisco State University).