has not even officially announced that it is open for business, yet there have been people waiting in lines out the door since May 1.
The owners said they initially planned a soft opening to allow its new 130 employees to train. The soft opening meant that the doors would be kept unlocked, and employees were welcomed to invite family.
“People knew we were opening sometime in May, so some people just thought it was May 1,” Dave Leatherby, one of the owners, said. “Then they took pictures and put it on Facebook, and by seven, we had a line out the door.”
The restaurant had to stay open until midnight that day.
Leatherby said it has been really nice to see the support coming from the Elk Grove community, and that he is confident they made the right choice when they decided to expand out to Elk Grove.
“It’s been 25 years since we opened a new store,” Leatherby said. “This is very similar to when we opened our very first creamery on Arden Way 30 years ago.”
A sign sits outside the front doors, warning customers that employees are still training, and asking customers to be patient.
The restaurant hired 130 new employees, most young and inexperienced. Only 10 of the new hires had previous work experience.
Leatherby said he was not looking for experience, but wanted to find the right qualities in them. He was looking for happy, warm and generous workers who could handle a fast-paced environment.
Eight employees from the Leatherby’s on Arden Way were also pulled to work at the Elk Grove restaurant, and to help train and guide the new employees. The Arden location has 110 employees.
“Many people don’t know, we make every single gallon if ice cream right here,” he said. “We had to build an ice cream manufacturing facility.”
That includes a freezer that can go negative 30 degrees.
The Elk Grove location also features new non-ice cream menu items not previously served at the Arden restaurant. Some of the items include a pork tenderloin sandwich and four new salads.
Artist Derrel Fleener painted all of the murals inside the restaurant, but Leatherby said the artist is still working on one more special mural for the restaurant.
The painting will show Old Downtown Elk Grove around 1860. Elk Grove historian Elizabeth Pinkerton helped supply them with old photos, so the mural will be relatively accurate. Leatherby said there was an ice cream shop in Old Elk Grove during that time, but since they don’t know the name of it, they are going to have it say Leatherby’s.
Elk Grove resident Cheryl Glenn said she used to drive all the way to the Citrus Heights location, and that she is really excited the owners decided to add a location in Elk Grove.
“It’s just unique,” Glenn said. “It’s different and good and has that old fashioned-type atmosphere.”
Another Elk Grove resident, Beth Maynard also said she was really excited about the new location. She said it is worth whatever wait time there is for a table.
“Walking in here, it’s the family atmosphere,” Maynard said. “I just love it.”
Maynard has been a long-time customer and said she has been going to the Arden location since it first opened.
“I love the owners,” she said. “They are fabulous and they did a great job.”
Karen Butac, an Elk Grove resident who used to travel to the Arden location often, said she is happy that there is a Leatherby’s closer to home. She said going to the restaurant gives her a sense of nostalgia.
“I like that it’s a family kinda restaurant,” Butac said. “I’ve been going since I was a kid, so it’s just something that I grew up going to.”
The Elk Grove Leatherby's took over the former Mandango's, and is located in the Laguna Gateway Shopping Center, near the intersection of Laguna Blvd and Laguna Springs Drive.
The restaurant's hours are from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on weekdays, and 11 a.m. to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.