One hears Ike’s before seeing Ike’s. The new gourmet sandwich shop, which opened Monday across the street from Santa Clara University, bursts with a contagious energy spread by exuberant employees, loud music and chattering customers. Bright colors and quotes cover the walls, and the huge sandwich board dominates the proceedings. The board is filled with sandwich names like the “Brandi Chastain,” “Steve Jobs” and “SF Giants,” as well as many more Bay Area legends and favorites.

Owner Ike Shehadeh says that once he started naming sandwiches after athletes and celebrities, their namesakes started coming in to sample his creations. “Not everybody that has a sandwich named after them has been in, although many have,” he tells me.

This is the ninth Ike’s in the Bay Area, and a 10th is already under construction. The shops have developed quite a following. In 2009, the flagship San Francisco store was featured on the Travel Channel’s Man vs. Food. The sandwiches are massive, and the bread is baked fresh to order. A generous helping of Ike’s “Dirty Secret Sauce” is applied to each—and baked into the bread for good measure. The “Menage à Trois” is Ike’s most popular sandwich; it includes halal chicken, real honey, honey mustard, barbecue sauce and pepper jack, Swiss and cheddar cheese. Sandwich prices range between $7 and $11.

Ike shares the story of how he got started, saying that he loves to eat and opened the first Ike’s, at 16th and Sanchez in the Castro in San Francisco, in 2007 as a hobby. But the shop quickly grew so popular that “I had to quit all my jobs to sell sandwiches, since people kept on coming.”