Though new Austinites may not know it from the current array of chain restaurants, The Drag was once a large part of what kept Austin weird. Perhaps it was inevitable that years after Guadalupe Street’s heyday in the ‘70s and ‘80s, a national franchise is moving in that appropriates that counter culture cool.
A rep for Fort Collins, Colorado-based sandwich shop Cheba Hut confirms that an Austin location will open at 3016 Guadalupe St., Ste. 200, in early 2020. Though the branding of local concepts like Thundercloud Subs hint at la vie boheme, the restaurant goes full out with a cannabis theme and trippy murals plucked out of a head shop.
Specializing in “toasted” subs, Cheba’s sandwich offerings are mostly named after marijuana strains like Jamaica Red, Acapulco Gold, and — the perhaps ill-advised — AK-47. Though stoner foods like pizza nachos and ramen-wrapped hot dogs have become a celebrated category over the last few years, the shop keeps the offerings fairly regulation with an assortment of chicken, turkey, roast beef, veggies, and cheeses.
Cheba does go buck-wild with its Loaded Not’chos, nacho cheese Doritos topped with melted cheddar, jalapeños, red onion, black olives, and ranch dressing. Other munchies include a hummus platter; meatballs; pretzel bits; garlic cheese bread; and, inexplicably, French onion soup. There are also salads, though the team seems to have sobered up when naming those.
For drinks, Cheba offers a variety of nonalcoholic “cottonmouth cures,” local craft beer, and a full cocktail menu. Naturally, there’s Gin n Juice and a Bloody Mary Jane with “stuff on a stick.” The other drinks range from the Dirty Hippie with muddled cucumbers, Deep Eddy Vodka, and lemonade to the Brass Monkey, a combination of Pabst Blue Ribbon, orange juice, and regret.
Though no interior details are available for the Austin shop just yet, most of the newer locations feature large-scale psychedelic art, beach scenes, or portraits of stoners like Cheech Marin, Hunter S. Thompson, and Willie Nelson. The staff wears tie-dyed T-shirts and the social media strategy seems to lean toward dank memes.
The Guadalupe location will be the chain’s first in Texas. Cheba was developed in Tempe, Arizona, in 1998 by then-Arizona State University student Scott Jennings. Since then it has spread to 26 locations, mostly clustered in the Southwest.