Rita's Italian Ice
|Private (subsidiary of Falconhead Capital Partners)|
|Industry||Dessert, Quick Service|
May 7, 1984|
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
|Headquarters||Trevose, Pennsylvania, United States|
Number of locations
|Jeff Moody President and CEO, Ice Guy mascot|
|Products||Rita's Italian Ice|
Rita's was founded in May 1984 by former Philadelphia firefighter Bob Tumolo with a recipe that he purchased from an elderly neighbor that he then adjusted to enhance the flavors and include real fruit. Rita's originally advertised its product as "water ice", using the colloquial term for what is sometimes called "Italian ice" in other areas of the country. By 1987 a second store was opened, and in 1989 the family decided to franchise their business. Today, there are over 600 locations in 25 states and the District of Columbia. In May 2005, the company was sold to McKnight Capital Partners, a private equity group with extensive franchise experience. McKnight Capital Partners recognized the organization’s growth potential and set into place plans to take the company to the next level.
In 2011, Falconhead Capital purchased a controlling interest in the company from an investment group led by Jim Rudolph. Falconhead named their operating partner Thomas Christopoul as the new chairman and interim chief executive.
In 2013, Rita's opened its first location outside of the United States in Shenzhen, China.
Rita's has traditionally given out a free regular-sized water ice on the first day of Spring.
- Italian ice
- Frozen custard
- Gelati, Italian ice in between frozen custard
- Misto, a drink of liquid custard blended with Italian ice
- Blendini, a combination of frozen custard and Italian ice blended with crushed Oreo pieces, Nilla Wafer pieces, pretzel pieces, Heath (candy bar) pieces, Reese's Pieces, Reese's, M&M's Minis, or Wonka Nerds.
- Cream Ice
- Slenderita, fat-free soft serve
The partnership between Rita's and Peeps would provide new flavor combinations, such as "Peeps Chocolate Covered Gelati", "Peeps Chocolate Covered Misto" and "Peeps Pie Blendini". The Peeps flavor was discontinued in 2011.
Rita's partnered with Cadbury in July 2009 to introduce its Swedish Fish Italian ice flavor. On June 29, 2012, Rita's partnered with Cadbury once more to release its Sour Patch Kids Red Italian ice flavor.
Other companies involved in Rita's Italian ice flavors:
Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation, "Alex's Lemonade" Italian ice.
Nabisco, "Oreo Cookies and Cream" cream ice and "Mint Oreo®" cream ice.
- Hartford, Jamie (September 2009). "Rita's Water Ice Celebrates 25 Years of Success - QSR Magazine". QSR Magazine. Retrieved 2009-09-16.
- "Rita's Celebrates 30th Anniversary with Giveaways, Politicians". Phillymag. 2014-05-07. Retrieved 2016-03-29.
- Philadelphia Business Journal, May 4, 2005
- Pittsburgh Business Times, May 4, 2005
- Rita's Franchise Company (2007-04-13). "Rita's Franchise Company - Press Releases Detail - Rita's Italian Ice Set to Relocate its Cool Support Center". Retrieved 2010-03-11.
- Associated Press, Bloomberg Businessweek, 1 December 2011. "Falconhead Capital acquires Rita's Water Ice". Accessed 7 December 2011.
- Rita's Franchise Company. "Rita's Franchise Company - Events & Promotions - First Day of Spring". Retrieved 2010-03-11.
- Huth, Kelly (2010-03-09). "Rita's Italian Ice to offer Peeps-flavored dessert". PennLive LLC. Retrieved 2010-03-14.