Set apart from the conventional sandwich shop is Cheba Hut. No fast food in the College Area rivals its innovative subs.
This up-and-coming franchise is definitely putting new strains on the map.
Established by Scott Jennings in 1998 near Arizona State, Cheba Hut opened a new location on El Cajon Boulevard last July. The eccentric combination of sandwiches and “munchie” snacks are sure to lift students’ taste buds to a new high.
Greeting customers is a bright green vintage Volkswagen bus parked curbside out front. As soon as customers open the door, the amiable employees greet them with genuine hospitality. The peaceful, mellow atmosphere is brought full circle with reggae music to put diners in a relaxed mood not achieved in most restaurants.
“The laid-back atmosphere is just as important to us as the quality of our food and the service we provide,” Matt Trethewey, co-owner and Chief Operating Officer of the parent franchising company, said. “We want to treat people the way we want to be treated. It’s an old-school approach to business. We like to engage our customers, look them in the eye and talk to them. To us, it’s more about the interaction than the transaction. Everyone gets a kick out of the menu and the names of the sandwiches.
We’re getting people to think a little and open their minds.”
When it comes time to order, the decision becomes complicated as the aroma of toasted hoagies invade the senses. Choosing between almost 30 combinations of subs with classic names such as Magic Mushroom, Kush, Silver Haze, Chronic and White Widow makes it difficult to not get carried away with the pun-filled fun. The signature subs come in nug (4 inch), pinner (8 inch), or blunt (12 inch) sizes, and any sandwich can be catered to suit customers’ tastes.
“The Chronic is amazing,” Trevor Brannen, a sophomore at San Diego State, said. “It’s barbecue beef covered in their own homemade barbecue sauce, so you know it’s fresh. Topped with some onions, peppers, mushrooms … makes my mouth water just thinking about it. It’s a really chill place to be. The staff is really helpful, all the customers are always satisfied. It’s just a really feel-good kind of place.”
Not everyone will be attuned to the menu’s lingo, but that hasn’t stopped diners from enjoying its piquant subs and munchies. The goo balls reign supreme, and the hemp brownies and rice krispie bars are not far behind.
Although lethargic and carefree attitudes are commonly associated with anything advocating such a lifestyle, diners are pleasantly surprised to find the staff energetic and attentive. The employees make pleasant conversation while checking up on customers to make sure everyone is satisfied.
Cheba Hut hosts an annual 420 party, and all day on April 20 it will be selling any nug sandwich, bag of chips and a drink served in a Cheba frisbee for $4.20. Those who are 21 years and older can also enjoy beer specials and live music.