New ice cream shop in Leland creates flurry of excitement

LELAND – Marie Fischer has lived in Leland for eight years and has always wished there was more to do in town.

When she first heard that Johnny K’s was opening an ice cream shop in Leland, she said she was immediately excited.

“I’ll definitely go as soon as they open,” she said. “It’s good to have somewhere to go with friends. It’s close to home, I don’t have to drive out of town for it. A new business in town is a big deal for us.”

Johnny K’s Ice Cream Shop, 136 Railroad St. in Leland, had a soft opening Thursday, Sept. 19, with a meet and greet sponsored by Country Financial. The shop officially opened Friday, Sept. 20, in time for the weekend’s Leland Hometown Harvest Fest.

The shop will be open weekend evenings, with a calendar of times posted on the shop’s front door. Customers also can visit Johnny K’s Facebook page or call 815-786-3088 for information and shop hours.

Johnny K’s in Sandwich and Johnny K’s Ice Cream Shop in Leland are co-owned by Johnny Hornick and his sister Kristy Seyller.

Hornick said he opened Johnny K’s with his sister in 2003. The siblings moved to the area from the south suburbs of Chicago in 1998.

“We loved moving out here, but the one thing we missed was a Chicago-style food place with Italian beef, Chicago dogs and Maxwell Street Polish sausage,” Hornick said.

At first, the Leland shop will offer only hard-serve ice cream: cones, floats and sundaes.

Twelve flavors of ice cream will be served, and customers can choose to sit at one of five tables inside or two tables outside.

“We’ll maybe become more of a food venue next spring and summer. We are looking into expanding our menu,” Hornick said.

Hornick said that after Johnny K’s experienced a fire in 2016, the restaurant shut down for five months.

“After the fire, it’s almost like there’s two different restaurants; my sister runs the food and I run the ice cream side,” he said. “The new ice cream shop will really allow me to solely concentrate on ice cream. The opportunity came up, I have great staff, I enjoy selling ice cream, so I thought, ‘Let’s give it a whirl.’ ”

Hornick said the shop could be just the beginning of revitalizing downtown Leland.

“We’re opening the shop with the kids in town in mind,” he said. “It will be a place to go, something to do. We have a back room and are thinking of adding a pingpong table. I love Leland and other little towns like it. I grew up in Chicago and it’s a breath of fresh air from where I grew up.”

Craig Lenert, who has lived in Leland for 20 years, said he loves that an ice cream shop is coming to town.

“My wife and I will come down on a regular basis,” Lenert said. “It’s great someplace new is opening. It’s good for the town. It’s great to have something period.”

Lillian Mosquera said she’s looking forward to stopping by for ice cream with her family.

“I think that it’s awesome,” she said. “I just wish they were open more, but it’s still very new. It’s exciting. We all can’t wait to grab ice cream at the new shop.”

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