Our History

From a front porch in Philly to an international presence, Rita’s Italian Ice franchise has become one of the most beloved frozen treat businesses in the world

When former firefighter Bob Tumolo and his mother began selling Italian ice from their front porch one sweltering summer day in 1984, there was no way of knowing then that from such humble beginnings would grow an international brand that’s still going strong over three decades later.

Tumolo just wanted to earn a little extra income, and his frozen treat business was an instant hit. He named the business after his wife, Rita. While the Tumolos sold the brand in 2005, Rita’s today has more than 600 units in the U.S. and internationally, and is one of the most beloved frozen treats around. We still make our ice fresh every day, using real fruit, and it’s still refreshing. Still fun. Still delicious.

And still unlike anything else on the market.

Rita’s history still informs our future

What Bob Tumolo did when he sold Italian ice — or water ice, as it’s commonly known in Philadelphia — was establish a baseline of happy. Fruity, frozen treats on a hot summer day made people happy because they tasted great (and cooled them down!) and because they were different from anything else out there. Bob used real fruit in his Italian ices, which are based on the popular homemade Italian treat known as granita, and we still use real fruit in our ices today.

We’re still making guests happy today, too, because our two core products — Italian ice and frozen custard — are so deliciously unique.

Praise from industry experts

Our commitment to producing a quality product does not go unnoticed. Take a look at a few of our recent accolades

Nation’s No. 1 Franchise
Among Specialty Ices

Top 100 in Entrepreneur’s
Franchise 500

Top 25 Franchise
High Performer

Best Custard/
Ice Cream

No. 2 among
“Chains ranked by likelihood of
customer return”

This information is not intended as an offer to sell a franchise. We will not offer you a franchise until we have complied with disclosure and registration requirements in your jurisdiction. Contact Rita’s Franchise Company, LLC, located at 1210 Northbrook Drive, Suite 310, Trevose, PA 19053 to request a copy of our Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD). RESIDENTS OF NEW YORK: This advertisement is not an offering. An offering can only be made by a prospectus filed first with the Department of Law of the State of New York. Such filing does not constitute approval by the New York Department of Law.