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‘Toasted’ subs chain Cheba Hut finds roots in Denton

‘Toasted’ subs chain Cheba Hut finds roots in Denton

‘Toasted’ subs chain Cheba Hut finds roots in Denton
November 06
12:00 2022

A new restaurant located beneath Epoch on Eagle Apartments waves a banner welcoming passersby to enjoy a “toasted” sub from Cheba Hut, a sub shop with more than 30 signature subs.

An “Escape the Established” sign hangs on the wall of Cheba Hut on Oct. 17, 2022. Photo by Maria Crane

Cheba Hut was founded in Arizona by its former CEO Scott Jennings. The restaurant, which claims to have been “curing the munchies since 1998,” has grown into a chain of 45 active sites across 10 states. The Denton location celebrated its grand opening Monday, Oct. 17.

Among a line of about 30 to 40 people, local vendor and Fry St. figure Michael “E.B.” Latimer and the Denton Chamber of Commerce were in attendance, according to Bhavik Bhakta, co-owner and operator of the new location.

“[Cheba] was packed all day,” Bhakta said. “There was a grand opening [and] ribbon cutting stuff, so the Chamber of Commerce was here — which is awesome to me. […] It’s cool to see how tight-knit Denton is.”

Marijuana, or cannabis, is commonly used recreationally but has medicinal uses in pain relief and seizure suppression. One of the side effects of cannabis use is increased appetite, and Cheba Hut aims to be there for anyone who wants a quality bite to eat.

“They care about the customers — they take care of the quality of their sub,” Cheba Hut bartender and Denton resident Eric Escobar said. “We want to take as much time with your sandwich as possible to make sure it comes out perfectly great.” 

Customers attend the opening day part of Cheba Hut on Oct. 17, 2022. Photo by Maria Crane.

Marijuana users have created a sub-culture rooted in rebelliousness because recreational marijuana use is illegal in many states. 

“I think stoner culture is getting more and more prominent, so I guess it might be becoming more mainstream in a way,” Bhakta said. “But I think it’s still that old ‘f–k you’ to the man.”

For Bhakta, entrepreneurship was inherited. After his parents immigrated to the United States from India in 1995, they bought a hotel and created the Wagon Wheel Motel. 

“[My parents] came from nothing [but I’ve] seen them work […] their whole life,” Bhavik said. “I’m the oldest in the family […] so that [work ethic] fuels our fire too, [and we] want to build something really cool with Cheba Hut.” 

There are currently five Cheba Hut locations in Texas, which are located in Austin, San Antonio, Houston and Denton. The state can expect two more sites with Bhakta in Fort Worth and Dallas, as the Denton location is part of a three-store deal.  

Cheba Hut features a variety of toasted subs for customers on Oct. 17, 2022. Photo by Maria Crane

“I saw the advertisements online and thought ‘Cheba Hut looks mad good,’ and then I took a look at the menu and thought ‘I’ve got to try this place,'” university business freshman Hayden Hobbs said.

While the restaurant is a chain, Denton’s Cheba Hut location has a localized element. Two murals spotlight the history of Denton’s artistic culture — something Bhakta said he noticed about the local community while looking into the city as a possible location.

“If you go to any shop, they’re all different,” Bhakta said. “They’re all different artistry just based on where they’re at, and that’s what the different murals mean.”

Bhakta said he wants the Denton store to be a local community spot where customers can sit outside and relax.

I want people to chill here and feel that good vibe that comes with us,” Bhakta said. “I just want to help as many people as I can. Before we opened up we were giving away a bunch of free food [on campus]. […] It’s important for us to give back as much as we can.”

Featured Image: General manager and owner Bhavik Bhakta cuts a ribbon on opening day of Cheba Hut on Oct. 17, 2022. Photo by Maria Crane

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Gianna Ortner-Findlay

Gianna Ortner-Findlay

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