Vic’s Ice Cream expands, adding a new coffee cafe

Vic’s Ice Cream, the longtime Land Park fixture, is expanding, adding a next-door coffee cafe that could open by year’s end. When it does, Vic’s Café will offer a double-scoop of local pairings, serving Temple Coffee brews and Old Soul pastries.

“It’s a huge change. It’s exciting and scary at the same time,” said Craig Rutledge, the second-generation owner of Vic’s, which has stood on the same corner of Riverside Boulevard since 1947.

Rutledge said the tiny cafe, which will have seating for nine, will open as soon as he gets through final Sacramento city inspections. “We’re ready to go.”

Rutledge said he’s invested about $200,000 in the project, including a handicapped-accessible bathroom that can be used by both cafe and ice cream shop customers. He also bought an Italian grinding machine and other coffee-making equipment.

“I never knew how involved it was to do coffee,” said Rutledge, whose six-person cafe staff spent a week training last month at Temple Coffee’s roasting facility on S Street. Until the cafe opens, they’ve been working daily, perfecting the art of grinding, brewing and creating cappuccinos, espressos and other coffee concoctions.

The cafe will not serve salads or sandwiches yet, since sit-down lunch fare is already offered at the ice cream parlor. But it will have some ice cream-related touches, including an Italian coffee drink called an “affogato,” a scoop of ice cream drenched with a shot of espresso.

Rutledge, whose late father Ashley Rutledge opened the ice cream parlor with his namesake partner, Vic Zito, more than 65 years ago, said adding a coffee cafe is a natural evolution. “It’s a good fit for the neighborhood. A lot of people have told me they’ve missed having a coffee shop around here,” he said, noting that at least three coffee outlets on Riverside Boulevard have closed in the last decade or so.

The Rutledge family owns the Vic’s building at Riverside Boulevard and Eighth Avenue, which has side-by-side, 1,200-square-foot retail spaces. After the building’s tenant, Artisan Hair Salon, decided to move into bigger space across the street, the concept of a coffee cafe began brewing.

Vic’s Café will open at 6 a.m. daily and stay open until 8 p.m. during winter and 10 p.m. in summer.

For Rutledge, it’s truly a family affair: His mother, sister and college-age son helped with the cafe’s menu selections and interior design and one of his nephews will be a coffee barista. “I think my dad would approve,” said Rutledge, 63, who took over day-to-day management of the family business in the 1980s. His father passed away in 2010 at age 90.