Rita’s Italian Ice is named to Franchise Times 200+ franchise ranking

We’ve got a unique brand, a history of success and a simple business model

Rita’s Italian Ice franchise has been included in the annual Franchise Times Top 200+ ranking based on total global sales performance. Thanks to our unique product line, we already stand out in a world of ice cream franchises, and it’s nice to be recognized for our performance as well.

The annual Franchise Times Top 200+ list “is the result of a five-month research and reporting effort that leads to the most credible and objective franchise ranking available,” said Franchise Times Editor Laura Michaels. Franchise Times published the full list in its October issue, “ranking the 500 largest franchise systems in the United States by global systemwide sales, based on the previous year’s performance.”

Franchise Times Top 200+ logo






Ice cream franchises are a dime a dozen. Frozen yogurt franchises, too. But when you start counting up the Italian Ice and frozen custard franchises, well, let’s just say you won’t really need all your fingers.

We stand out as a happy business, of course, but we stand alone inside that special franchising niche because of our uniqueness of product. We’re very popular in our core Northeastern markets, but we’re also expanding successfully in warmer territories where Rita’s operators can stay open year-round.

A rainbow of Rita’s ices in branded cups against a green wall that reads, Ice|Custard|Happiness.

Why Rita’s is investment-worthy

As food franchises go, Rita’s is at the top of the no-hassle list. We offer simple operations that don’t even require restaurant experience. Rita’s bases all menu items on two concoctions, frozen custard and Italian ice. There are no cooktops, no ovens, no complicated recipes and no inventory-control and food-waste headaches. Franchisees hire mostly teenagers to run the place.

Rita’s is a seasonal business in many territories with colder winters, such as our core markets in the Northeast, and that gives our operators plenty of downtime to plan their next Rita’s opening or even spend time with loved ones. 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.

We’ve been going strong for 35 years, and we’ve got a cult following you tend not to see in the major ice cream franchises. Yes, everyone loves a frozen dessert, but there’s something truly special about Rita’s.

Learn more about the Rita’s opportunity

If you’d like to learn more about the Rita’s franchise opportunity, 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 website.

16 new shops and counting

Rita’s has opened a slew of franchises since June, and our brand is picking up momentum

Two men stand in front of a Rita’s shop in a strip mall. The man on the left is holding a chocolate cone. A sign above the shop reads “Rita’s” and “Italian Ice” and “Frozen Custard.”

Coral Springs, FL, mayor Scott Brook and franchisee Courtney Todman stand in front of Todman’s new Rita’s shop.

Rita’s is starting off strong in autumn after opening 16 Italian ice franchises from June through September. We’re proud of our steady, strategic growth and continued interest from experienced entrepreneurs who want to open their own Rita’s shops.

Here’s a list of our most recent openings:

  • Dutch Wonderland amusement park in Lancaster, PA
  • Reno, NV
  • Lake Buena Vista, FL
  • Logan Township, NJ
  • Kennett Square, PA
  • West Jordan, UT
  • Lewistown, PA
  • Hilliard, OH
  • Coral Springs, FL
  • Essex, MD
  • Holland, MI
  • Ocala, FL
  • Elkridge, MD
  • State Farm Arena, Atlanta, GA
  • Arlington, TX
  • 51st Street in Brooklyn, NY

Our 35-year-old brand has long been a cult favorite in the Philadelphia area, and our popularity is spreading as we grow our presence across the country.

Two men stand in front of a Rita’s shop in a strip mall. A sign above the shop reads “Rita’s” and ”Italian Ice” and “Frozen Custard.”

Sean and Jerry Evans stand in front of their new Rita’s Italian Ice franchise in Arlington, Texas.

How our Italian ice franchises stand out

Ice cream franchises are a dime a dozen. But an opportunity to sell Italian ices and frozen custard is unique in the $28 billion frozen desserts industry, which is one reason our 600-unit chain of frozen custard and Italian ice franchises is expanding nationwide.

Italian ice and frozen custard form the base for all of the treats on our menu, which helps simplify operations and keep our food costs low, both in terms of inventory and food waste. Catering and mobile units provide franchisees with the flexibility to create additional revenue streams by taking our delicious frozen treats to the people.

The seasonal aspect of our business — franchises in colder climates are often closed during the winter months — allows franchise owners the opportunity to use the downtime to strategize unit growth and revenue potential. Rita’s is ideal for both multi-unit operators and single-unit owners.

Learn more about the business opportunity

Are there any Rita’s Italian Ice franchises near you? Don’t you think there should be? If you’d like to learn more about our available territories and franchise opportunities, please explore our research pages or fill out the form on this page to request more information. We look forward to hearing from you!

Rita’s Italian Ice announces 4 new franchise store openings

Rita’s franchise growth gets off to a strong start in 2019 with Q1 openings establishing momentum

Seven young woman in brightly colored Rita’s branded T-shirts stand behind a Rita’s counter that reads, “Custard. Happiness.” Signs atop the glass cases read, “Made Fresh Here Daily!”

Stepping up to increase Rita’s franchise growth was one of our goals for 2019, and we’re getting off to a strong start with four new locations opening in the first quarter:

  • Mother-and-son team Tammy and Adam Wiley are opening two locations inside Bedford Candies, their candy and gourmet popcorn shops, in Bedford and Altoona, PA. They moved their production warehouse earlier this year to accommodate both businesses.
  • Husband and wife Emily and Eric King opened Rita’s in Riverton, Utah, in January, our first opening of the year. The Kings are already planning a second location in West Jordan, Utah, later this year.
  • Hieu (Hugh) D. Luu and Thank (Taylor) Luu-Yip opened a Rita’s in Santa Clara, CA, outside of San Jose.

Five different colors of gelati in red, white and green Rita’s-branded cups, all topped with swirls of chocolate or vanilla frozen custard, are arranged in a V formation.

Why Rita’s is a great bet right now

Entrepreneurs like Deepak Verma, who is opening a Rita’s inside his Subway franchise at Whitehall Terminal in New York City this spring, know how to capitalize on a long-established successful brand that has 600 locations nationwide.

Verma lives with his wife, Amita, and their two children, a 16-year-old son and a 12-year-old daughter, in South Jersey, where they’ve been big fans and loyal customers of Rita’s for years, visiting about once a week on average. Verma, who owns multiple food franchises including the Subway at Whitehall Terminal, didn’t even think twice when he decided to add a co-brand to his roomy Subway location.

“I didn’t look at any other brands,” he says. “It’s low food cost and high profit margin, and that’s very important.”

Located at the busy Staten Island Ferry terminal means Verma is in a high-traffic area for both commuters and tourists, which is perfect for a Rita’s location. The experienced entrepreneur also likes the growth and momentum he’s seeing with Rita’s right now.

“There is a big opportunity to make money,” Verma says. “They are adding new locations and people are starting to know about this brand everywhere. The brand is growing, so everybody will grow with this brand.”

What it costs to open a Rita’s franchise

Depending on a variety of factors, such as which service model you choose, our initial startup costs range from $175,500 – $435,000, according to our most recent Franchise Disclosure Document. We offer simple operations in a fun business that’s perfect 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

If you’d like to learn more about Rita’s franchise growth and the opportunity to open an Italian ice business in your area, 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.

Our seasonal franchises reap big rewards every spring on Opening Day

No matter how un-spring like the weather may be, brand fans brave the weather for their favorite first sign of spring: Rita’s grand re-opening

The red-and-white awning of a Rita’s location at the base of a tall building shows dozens of customers lined up at the door and all the way down the block along a city street.

March 20 is a big day for a couple of reasons. It’s the first day of spring, of course, but more significantly for Rita’s Italian Ice, it’s the grand re-opening day for most of our northern locations. While Rita’s can be open year-round in warmer climates, in our core Northeastern markets and elsewhere, it makes more sense to operate as a seasonal franchise. As our multi-unit owners can attest, that doesn’t hurt business at all.

This year, all of our locations opened on March 1, with an eye toward building up to the big Opening Day on the first day of spring. That’s the day that, come rain or snow, you’re likely to see customers lining up for a free Rita’s treat and access to the full menu of Italian ices, frozen custard and Blendinis, Gelatis, Mistos and more.

Benefits of a seasonal franchise

What’s your “why” — the reason you want to start a business? For many people, a big part of the answer is having more control over their own schedules and more flexibility in general. A business with a seasonal break can provide opportunities for recreation and rejuvenation, or it can give you the bandwidth you need to plot out your next business step.

Many Rita’s owners, particularly in colder climates, operate from March through November, using the off-season to open an additional Rita’s franchise for the next season or build up their catering revenues.
Customers line up along the sidewalk by the dozens to get access to a Rita’s. The brand’s red and white striped awning can be seen on the building to the left in the background.

As Joe Mathews, CEO of Franchise Performance Group and author of Street Smart Franchising, writes: “Many people are afraid that seasonality means lost opportunities, but that doesn’t have to be the case. A strong seasonal business allows franchise candidates to make full-time money in a shortened time frame. That affords them more opportunity to enjoy vacation time or family time; to take on other money-making projects in the off-season, such as a counter-season business (think landscaping and snow-blowing or skis and skateboards); or even spend time honing a sharper business plan for their existing seasonal business, allowing them to come back rested and ready to knock it out of the park.”

Seasonality has allowed to open another Maryland location this year, just three years after opening their first Rita’s franchise. That’s because they’ve spent their off-season plotting new growth.

Seasonality builds demand

Maureen and Brian Hartlieb’s seasonal locations in Maryland tend to garner big attention on Opening Day.

“We are lucky enough that where one of our seasonal franchises is, closing for the winter is a long-standing tradition, so re-opening is something that they look forward to,” says Maureen. “When we are there preparing and we’re starting to hang signs, people will come by and say, ‘Oh my gosh, we can’t wait, we can’t wait.’ I think it is that amazing experience they have all throughout the summer that keeps them coming back and saying, ‘Oh, we know it’s gonna be even bigger, and it’s gonna be better.’”

Learn more

Have you considered the benefits of a seasonal franchise? You can explore more about our brand on our research pages, or fill out the form on this page to start a conversation. We look forward to hearing from you!

A double? Why not a triple?

Rita’s franchise is the perfect business model to stack up into a multi-unit franchise investment for your portfolio

A line of people at a Rita’s window outside on a sunny city street.

Rita’s simple business model and flexible footprints make it easy to to scale a multi-unit operation quickly.

Rita’s franchises welcomes single-unit investors, but did you know our simple operations and flexible footprints make Rita’s a perfect franchise for a multi-unit strategy? Sean Evans of Dallas and his business partner spotted that opportunity before they even signed on the dotted line.

After 20 years in retail, the last 10 as a district manager for Footlocker, Evans had experience juggling multiple locations. And after delving into the Rita’s brand, he and his partner were convinced that signing a multi-unit deal was the smart decision.

“One of the big things that we were deciding on was, do we want to do more than one? Or do we want to just do the one and see what happens? That kind of thing. But you know, through partnership and conversation with Rita’s, we worked different plans,” Evans says. “They came up with different scenarios: “If you decide to do multi units, here’s how it can look.” You know, it wasn’t like five at a time and boom, there you are with everything happening at one time. It was more like, do the first one and then space them out, open them nine months apart and go after the next one. So on and so on.”

Allowing time to build at a moderate pace with intention “just makes more sense,” says Evans, whose first unit opened in Q1 this year. They are planning to open four more Rita’s locations over the next few years.

How to build multi-unit franchises with Rita’s

We have several advantages when it comes to multi-unit investments. Here are some of the components that make it easier for you to scale a three-pack, five-pack or more with Rita’s Italian Ice:

Flexible footprints. Start with your standard store, with walk-up or walk-in service and potential drive-thru service; then engage with your community through catering; and then consider our mobile program that allows you to grow your business outside your four walls and take the product to the consumer.

Multiple revenue streams. You can cater parties or set up at events year-round, particularly if you have a mobile unit. It provides extra revenue streams and is also a great way to do grassroots marketing, especially in territories where Rita’s is new. And if you operate in an area where you choose to open seasonally, you can still save on labor and utilize the off-season for catering and community events. Many franchisees also spend time in the off-season strategizing for opening their next Rita’s unit.

Simple operations. With just two core products and no cooking, our business is easy to run and operates on high margins. That also makes it easier to train employees, and the fun working environment makes Rita’s an employer of choice for teens and young adults.

A branded cup reads Blendini and has colorful candy nuggets in a pile on one side of the cup and a tuft of pale blue cotton candy on the other. A mixture of those two items with vanilla frozen custard can be seen in the cup.

Our two core products, Italian Ice and frozen custard, are the base of all the unique products we sell.

Unique products draw customers. Rita’s Italian Ice gives customers something new to try. That novelty gives you a major leg up when it comes to attracting and retaining customers. We offer frozen custard, the smoother, creamier version of soft-serve ice cream; and Italian ice, the upscale version of a slushy that’s made with water and real fruit. The cost of goods is low, and the concept is unlike other frozen dessert franchises.

Learn more about our multi-unit opportunities

A unique franchise like Rita’s offers an incredible opportunity to scale up and own multiple units. Please explore our research pages to see what our brand has to offer. You can also fill out the form on this page and someone will be in touch with you as soon as possible. We look forward to hearing from you!

Rita’s Italian Ice could be one of your best bets for 2019

Entrepreneur magazine names frozen desserts as Top Franchise Category, and we’re already one of the best frozen dessert franchises around

A hand holds a Rita’s branded cup with frozen custard swirl on top in front of a Rita’s store.

Frozen desserts are hot. Entrepreneur magazine proclaims the frozen desserts as one of the Top 10 Franchise Categories of 2019.

Entrepreneur magazine has named the frozen desserts segment one of the magazine’s Top 10 Franchise Categories for 2019. The magazine based its ratings by studying industry segments where a lot of franchise growth is occurring.

“Everyone loves dessert, and the category offers prospective franchisees a wide variety of options, including ice cream, frozen yogurt, ices, ice pops, and custard,” Entrepreneur writes. While the magazine also notes that frozen dessert novelties like rolled ice cream are also experiencing a boom, Rita’s has a competitive edge because we’re a well-established concept.

Rita’s truly stands out in the booming frozen desserts category. Bottom line: This is a fun business. It’s a business that’s easy to scale, simple to operate and works either seasonally or year-round, depending on your territory.

The history of the best frozen dessert franchise

Since our humble beginnings as home-based Italian ice business in Philadelphia, Rita’s has developed a strong fan base that has allowed us to grow to more than 575 locations in the United States. Franchise owners in our northeastern markets enjoy the seasonality of the business, which allows them to spend the offseason planning growth strategies and managing the opening of new locations. In warmer climates like Texas and Florida, operators stay open year-round to maximize their revenue earning opportunities.

See where territories are available.

Why Rita’s could be right for you

Three cups of frozen treats with cookie and candy mix-ins in red, white and green are in Rita’s blended cups that say Blendini on them in big black script against a blue swirl.

Blendinis are a delicious blend of our two core products plus fun mix-ins. The unique product offering at Rita’s is a big draw for customers.

Consider our offerings: Italian ice and frozen custard. From those two core products, we have spun out an inventive menu full of creative offerings like the Blendini, which is a combination of Italian ice, frozen custard and delicious mix-ins like crushed Oreo® cookies or candy bars, and the Gelati, which is a dessert of layered Italian ice and frozen custard in flavors of the customer’s choosing.

The streamlined product offering makes operations a breeze, and the simple operations make it easier to hire and train your staff. In addition, our product offerings are so unique that they become a big part of the consumer value proposition.

Learn more

To explore whether this might be the right business opportunity for you, fill out the form on this page to start a conversation. We look forward to hearing from you!