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!