How did it all begin? This is something that employees are asked time and time again by our customers. Even more, why did the Leatherby’s choose to open an ice cream parlor? Well, here is a brief history to help you respond to our customers:
Dave Leatherby, Sr (Daddy Dave!) and his son Dave, Jr, were entrepreneurs who had started and owned a number of businesses. As things happened, each of them found themselves out of work at the same time, each having sold or left their previous business ventures. Dave Sr and wife Sally approached their son David Jr and his wife Jennifer with the idea of starting a business together, a real family business in which all 10 of their children might be able to work together.
Dave Sr had grown up in Iowa and worked in a small town café that was owned and operated by his parents. He remembered fondly how the “Main Street Café” had been a “gathering place for the whole community,” and hoped to create a business that would offer the Sacramento community the same warm environment. After much deliberation about the kind of restaurant to open, they had two front runners… a bakery or an ice cream parlor. Each offers a wholesome product that can be enjoyed by anyone and everyone. Each projects happiness and goodwill. And, most of all, each has a warm, friendly, family environment. Daughter Shelly, Dave Sr and Sally’s third child, attended nursing school in the bay area and frequented a famous old-time ice cream parlor. At Shelly’s insistence, the whole Leatherby family took a trip to visit this old fashioned ice cream parlor, and immediately upon entering knew that they had found what they were looking for. With help and advice from the owners of this establishment, and one year’s planning and research (sampling ice cream across the country!), the idea of Leatherby’s Family Creamery was conceived.
But opening was not so easy. The economic times in the early 1980’s posed many challenges. Interest rates loomed at over 20%, and lenders were wary of new business ventures, especially of restaurants, but a 6,000 square foot ice cream parlor?!....no one wanted anything to do with such a seemingly high-risk project. Without any bank financing and with personal savings dwindling, it looked like the Leatherby family dream would come to end. However, with the help of a local family friend, Bud Ratterman (who had 10 children of his own), and Grandpa Al Leatherby, who had run the Main Street Café many years earlier and recently retired, the necessary funding was obtained. Finally, after many ordeals Leatherby’s Family Creamery on Arden Way opened on August 14th 1982, a real family operation consisting of three generations of Leatherbys!
Since 1982 customers from all over Northern California have flocked to Leatherby’s for enormous sundaes, great food, and a fabulous family atmosphere. Many people young and old have fond memories of devouring a Daddy Dave’s Sundae. In fact, Dave Sr. is now affectionately known around town as “Daddy Dave.” Alan Leatherby, Dave Jr.’s younger brother, has stepped in as general manager and is part-owner of the Leatherby stores. Leatherby’s Family Creamery has become an integral part of family life for the entire Leatherby family. Many Leatherby family members, nieces, nephews, cousins, grandchildren and other relatives still work at Leatherby’s today. And usually a number of family members can be caught dining at the original Creamery on Arden way every day. To us, the ice cream parlor is our home away from home. It has allowed us to enjoy what is most important in life…family and friends…and serving others.
Daddy Dave’s original dream of founding a business that might be a “gathering place for the whole community” has become a reality.