How Rita’s invented a new category in the ice cream franchise segment and built a cult following that’s stronger than ever over three decades later

Two men are in the window of a Rita's food truck, one of them holding a cup of Rita's Italian Ice and the other one giving the camera a thumbs-up.

Tennessee Titans player Logan Ryan helps scooping ice on a Rita’s truck at a community event at Eastern Regional High School in NJ.

There’s nothing like a frozen treat in the summertime. And when Rita’s Italian Ice is around, people who know us will skip over the usual ice cream franchise faster than a toddler can drop a single scoop on hot pavement.

Rita’s is in an exciting space in the frozen desserts market because we’re like no other. From our roots in the Philly area, where we first opened our doors in 1984, we’ve grown a tremendous fan base, a cult-like following that has spread quickly with 600+ units nationwide.

After 35 years, we think it’s safe to say we’ve reached iconic status. We’re a seasonal, easy-to-operate franchise that’s far less complicated to run than a typical food franchise or even an ice cream business.

You can generate multiple streams of revenue and save money on labor during the off-season with Rita’s. And, with our mobile units, you’ll have the ability to amp up the catering side of your business and take your product to community events.

Marketing helps us connect

Although Rita’s popularity grew by word-of-mouth in the early days, these days we offer our franchisees everything from sophisticated marketing tactics to grassroots strategies that help spread brand awareness. Once people try our product and understand what we’re offering, that’s when the deeper connection are made.

Dallas-based franchisee Sean Evans grew up with Rita’s on the East Coast, so it was a no-brainer to bring the concept west to Texas. He and his business partner are planning to build 5 units in all. They’ve already carved out their branding strategy in this new-to-Rita’s part of the country.

“Even though we know the product is great, what’s it going to take to make someone else understand that, someone else that doesn’t know anything about it? You have to be willing to get the samples out there, work hard to get people to experience the product,” Evans says. “Even if that means that you might offer it free at an event. I think you have to really understand that you’re trying to show people how great it is.”

Two main products means simple operations

Unlike ice cream franchises, which have become so common that they’re now commoditized, Rita’s maintains a unique position in the $28 billion frozen desserts industry. Our product isn’t sold in stores, and we’re often the only outlet in the market selling Italian ice.

Our two core products are used in some combination on every item on our menu, from a layered Gelati to the delicious mixed Blendini. It makes inventory a breeze and helps keep food waste — and costs — at a minimum.

Join us

Ice cream franchises come and go, but there will never be another brand like Rita’s. Find out how you can become a Rita’s franchisee by exploring our research pages or filling out the form on this page. We look forward to hearing from you!