35 years to iconic status

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!

5 reasons not to open a Rita’s

This is no ordinary ice cream franchise. In fact, it’s not an ice cream franchise at all.

Two hands on either side of the photo hold Rita’s Italian Ices in Rita’s branded cups, touching the rims together as if in a toast, against a chalkboard background.

The franchise life is not for everyone. But there are ways to tell whether it might be the right life for you. Rita’s, as we said, is not just some ice cream franchise. It’s an amazingly unique franchise opportunity with 400+ units nationwide and growing, a concept that sells Italian ice and frozen custard. It’s a concept like no other.

There are a lot of compelling reasons to choose Rita’s. And there may be some compelling reasons not to. In fact, here are 5 reasons you just might NOT want to invest in a Rita’s Italian Ice franchise:

You don’t want a fun, happy business. People come into Rita’s for treats. Treats are fun. Treats make people happy. So instead of dealing with spreadsheets from the accounting department and daily meetings about incremental progress on some project you don’t care about, you could be running an exciting, feel-good business — like ice cream, only better — that puts smiles on people’s faces. Every day. And people are happy to see you. Every day. And you don’t ever have to earn a bonus for someone else again.

You don’t want simple operations. No restaurant experience? No problem. Why? No cooktops. No ovens. No complicated recipes. No inventory-control and food-waste headaches. Frozen custard you don’t have to mix up. Water, fruit and ice — does it get any simpler? Not much. It’s so easy you’ll literally be hiring teenagers to run the place.

That’s easy to scale in the off-season. A seasonal Rita’s is a beautiful thing. We know this because the majority of our 400+ franchises are in our core markets in the Northeast, where it’s been known to get pretty chilly in the wintertime. A lot of our franchisees use that downtime to operate on limited hours or to plan their next Rita’s opening. Every year, when we hold our Grand Re-Opening Day in the spring, people in those markets line up — sometimes in the early spring snow — for their first taste of their favorite reminder that spring and summer are coming.

You love working in corporate America. No one was ever laid off from their 9-to-5 job, right? Um… Look, we’re not saying people’s businesses never close. Sometimes, they do. But company loyalty and the gold watch retirement have long since gone by the wayside. Rita’s offers you a chance to control your own destiny, take a shot at your own piece of the American Dream. All our efforts to offer guidelines and processes and systems are designed to help you succeed, because we literally can’t do this without you. When was the last time someone at your corporate job told you that?

And you don’t want to be your own boss. There probably really are people who thrive on being told exactly what to do and how to do it. But maybe only because they never got to run the show. With Rita’s, you are in business for yourself. But you’re never in business by yourself. If you love the idea of having a time-tested business model to follow and expert guidance at your fingertips, all while you steer the ship, then, yes, this could be your opportunity. You will work hard your first few years, but you’ll be working toward your own profitability. And you’ll still be able to take your kid to the doctor or attend the school play without having to ask someone else if that’s okay.
A hand holds up a chocolate and vanilla swirled frozen custard in a Rita’s branded up against the backdrop of a Rita’s franchise with people lined up outside the window.

Your startup costs

Initial startup costs range from $175,500 – $435,000, according to our most recent Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD). We offer opportunities for both multi-unit and single-unit owners. Rita’s franchise growth is on track to increase this year, offering entrepreneurs an excellent opportunity to grow along with us. Qualified candidates need $100,000 in liquid capital and must have a net worth of at least $300,000.

Learn more about the Rita’s opportunity

If you’d like to learn more about Rita’s, we’d love to hear from you. Please fill out the form on this page to access our Franchise Information Center, where you can find detailed financial results, a breakdown of startup costs and in-depth Q&As with Rita’s franchisees. You can also discover more about our brand by exploring our research pages.

Rita’s ranks among best franchises for veterans by Entrepreneur, Military Times

Get a discount on our fees while using your leadership and teamwork skills to become a successful business owner

Our franchise was recently ranked No. 46 among Entrepreneur magazine’s best franchises for veterans. Based on a survey of the top 150 franchise companies for veterans, the rankings took into account discounts for vets and other factors such as franchisee support and where the company ranked among the Franchise 500. We also ranked 36th on Military Times Best Franchises 2018, which rated brands based on criteria including performance, costs, support and company culture.

Transitioning from military service back to civilian life isn’t always seamless. But the skills you acquired as a member of the armed services, such as leadership and how to work effectively as part of a team, are the very skills that will help you become successful as a Rita’s franchisee.

Rita’s Italian Ice is a great franchise for vets because we offer an affordable investment and let you make a living by making other people happy.

A hand holds up a Rita’s branded cup against an American flag against a blue sky with a couple of fluffy white clouds.

You’ve made your country proud. Now, you can make yourself proud by taking the reins of ownership with a Rita’s franchise, which is looking for experienced veterans to invest.

Your skills work in our business model

Rita’s provides you with a simple but proven formula that you can follow to build your own successful business. But we also allow you the freedom to grow your business at your own pace, so you get the best of both worlds. Those teamwork and leadership skills that you honed during your time in the military will be put to good use as you hire your Rita’s Treat Team members.

You’ll teach them how to make our delicious Italian ice in the store every day, and how to make the perfect swirl of frozen custard atop a Gelati. You and any of your full-time managers will learn all the particular facets of running a Rita’s at our corporate headquarters in Trevose, PA, and then you’ll pass along those skills to all the people you’ll hire to work in your Rita’s franchise.

Three Italian Ices in branded Rita’s cups are in flavors colored, from left to right, white, blue and red.

Be on the front lines of happiness. It’s even in our tagline: Ice. Custard. Happiness.

You gave something. Rita’s gives something back.

Serving in the armed forces is a dangerous job, and we appreciate the sacrifices every veteran has made for our nation. We believe veterans should be given special considerations when they get ready to return to civilian life, and to that end we offer financial incentives.

Veterans who qualify as franchise candidates will be eligible for a 50% discount off our $30,000 franchise fee. That’s a significant savings to give you a headstart on making your entrepreneurial dreams come true.

Rita’s startup costs are already accessible, with a startup investment ranging from $150,500 to $440,900. In the business world, especially in the foodservice franchise segment, that’s pretty affordable. Our uncomplicated business model, based on just two core products of Italian Ice and frozen custard, makes Rita’s a great entryway into food franchising.

Learn more

If you’d like to learn more about the growing Italian ice business opportunity with Rita’s, fill out the form on this page to access our Franchise Information Center, where you can find detailed financial results, a breakdown of startup costs and in-depth Q&As with Rita’s franchisees. You can also find more information about our franchise by exploring our research pages.