How did Leatherby’s Family Creamery get its start?
My father, who recently passed away, was a traveling salesman. But he had 10 children and grew tired of running around. He wanted to start a business he could share with his family. In 1982, my father, my grandfather and my oldest brother formed Leatherby’s Family Creamery. I had finished my first year of college at the time and took a year off to help with the business.
How important is that family culture?
It’s everything: faith first, family second. And community involvement is important, too. My mother still comes in every day, and she’s 82 years old. My father would come up to the creamery for lunch every single day. My son manages one location; my brother’s son manages another. And I can say I still work for my mother. How great is that?
What are the signature dishes on your menu?
Our specialty is our ice cream. We make our ice cream, fudges, caramel and sauces. Our signature dish is the Daddy Dave’s Banana Special. It’s a huge banana split. People come in and have a contest to see if they can eat it by themselves—if they do, they get their picture on the wall. One of the most popular items is named after me: Alan’s Black and Tan. Sacramento Valley is known for almonds, so this sundae has toasted almond ice cream and vanilla ice cream topped with fudge and caramel.
What items do you typically source from Sysco?
Most of what we buy, we buy through Sysco if we can. One of our specialty sandwiches is a crab sandwich, and it’s 100 percent crab. We buy that through Sysco.
Do you have a favorite Sysco product?
I’d have to say the crab for the crab sandwich. People come from everywhere to order that.
How has Sysco been an integral partner in your success?
We used to get comments that said, “The food was OK. Go for the ice cream.” We thought, no one compares to our ice cream, but we wanted to enhance our menu. That’s where Sysco became critical. Working closely with our Sysco representative for guidance, we started to use better meats and added some popular menu items, like a California turkey club. Now people say, “Their food is excellent, and don’t miss the ice cream.” Our Sysco business resource consultant also helped train our servers and gave me great advice about promoting special menu items. We found that most people want to hear the suggestions a server has to offer when they order.
We also had menu analysis meetings with Sysco to promote sales. For example, we already offered our crab sandwich, but after meeting with them, we added a deluxe crab sandwich with avocado and cheddar cheese, and it’s one of our most popular sandwiches. After we started promoting those items, our sales went up 10 percent the next year. In addition, Sysco has been able to go to suppliers of our major items and lock in better pricing. That’s been crucial to our success.
What are your plans for the future?
We’re looking to expand, in large part because Sysco has helped us be more efficient and successful. We would like to open two or three more locations in the next few years.