Rita's Italian Ice

Italian ice and frozen custard
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Franchise 500 2023
2024 Franchise 500 Rank
#424 Ranked #473 last year
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Initial investment
$293K - $673K
Units as of 2023
533 Decrease 6% over 3 years

Rita's Italian Ice is an international chain that offers Italian ice, frozen custard, and other unique creations. The company was founded by a former firefighter, Bob Tumolo, who named it after his wife, Rita. He felt he could improve the Italian ice product. With the help of his mother, he did. Tumolo accomplished his goal, creating what was then called "water ice."

In May 1984, Rita's Italian Ice opened its first store. The second store opened in 1987, and in 1989 the family decided to start selling franchises. Now there are more than 500 locations in multiple states across the U.S. Rita's Italian Ice is a major player in offering specialty sweet treats. These include frozen custard, Italian ice with real fruit, frozen drinks, and much more. Rita's Italian Ice offers many sweet treats, potentially guaranteeing that there is something for everyone.

In 2017, Argosy Private Equity and MTN Capital acquired Rita's Franchise Company. The company continues to search for willing franchisees to expand its reach. 

Why You May Want to Open a Rita's Italian Ice Franchise

As one of the company's commitments to the community, Rita's usually gives out free regular-sized Italian ice on the first day of spring. The company typically also gives back to communities every year with fundraising events for sports, health, organization, and school teams.

What Might Make Rita's Italian Ice a Good Choice?

If you consider opening a Rita's Italian Ice franchise, you should make sure you are financially stable enough to cover the initial investment made up of a franchise fee and other startup costs. Additionally, you should prepare yourself for ongoing fees that will consist of royalty fees, advertising fees, and potential renewal fees. Franchisees will also need to meet the company's set net worth and liquid capital requirements.

Typical terms of agreements for Rita’s Italian Ice franchisees last for 10 years. At the conclusion of those ten years, you can seek to renew your franchise for a sum if the franchisor wishes to remain in business. 

Rita's Italian Ice is a family-oriented business that generally tries to provide a location for many families to gather. Rita's Italian Ice enjoys being a contributor to their community. They offer birthday parties, large or small. No matter the size, Rita's Italian Ice generally provides the sweets. Rita's Italian Ice usually provides various ice cream choices for their special Party Pack as well. 

How To Open a Rita's Italian Ice Franchise

Before making any financial commitment or signing an agreement, you must perform your due diligence and establish if this is the right opportunity for you. Look around your community and decide if they could benefit from the presence of a Rita’s Italian Ice franchise. Are there other companies that specialize in water ice and frozen custard in your area? Does the community seem likely to be accepting of a water ice franchise?

Rita's Italian Ice might require their franchisees to go through a few weeks of training to become an effective part of the team. Rita's Italian Ice is ready to support you with your fresh franchise.

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Company Overview

About Rita's Italian Ice

Industry Food
Related Categories Miscellaneous Frozen Desserts, Frozen Yogurt, Ice Cream, Ices, Frozen Desserts
Founded 1984
Parent Company Rita's Franchise Co. LLC
Leadership Linda Chadwick, President & CEO
Corporate Address 1210 Northbrook Dr., #310
Trevose, PA 19053
Social Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest

Business Overview

Franchising Since 1989 (35 years)
# of employees at HQ 60
Where seeking

This company is offering new franchises throughout the US.

This company is offering new franchises worldwide.

# of Units 533 (as of 2023)

Information for Franchisees

Here's what you need to know if you're interested in opening a Rita's Italian Ice franchise.

Financial Requirements & Ongoing Fees

Here's what you can expect to spend to start the business and what ongoing fees the franchisor charges throughout the life of the business.

Initial Franchise Fee Information Circle
Initial Investment Information Circle
$293,233 - $672,995
Net Worth Requirement Information Circle
Cash Requirement Information Circle
Veteran Incentives Information Circle
20% off franchise fee
Royalty Fee Information Circle
Ad Royalty Fee Information Circle
Term of Agreement Information Circle
10 years
Is franchise term renewable? Yes
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Financing Options

Some franchisors offer in-house financing, while others have relationships with third-party financing sources to which they refer qualified franchisees.

Third Party Financing Rita's Italian Ice has relationships with third-party sources which offer financing to cover the following: startup costs, equipment

Training & Support Offered

Franchisors offer initial training programs and a variety of ongoing support options to help franchisees run their businesses.

On-The-Job Training 40 hours
Classroom Training 40 hours
Ongoing Support
Purchasing Co-ops
Meetings & Conventions
Toll-Free Line
Grand Opening
Online Support
Security & Safety Procedures
Field Operations
Site Selection
Proprietary Software
Franchisee Intranet Platform
Marketing Support
Co-op Advertising
Ad Templates
National Media
Regional Advertising
Social Media
Website Development
Email Marketing
Loyalty Program/App


Additional details about running this franchise.

Is absentee ownership allowed? No
Can this franchise be run from home/mobile unit? Information Circle
Can this franchise be run part time? Information Circle
# of employees required to run 2-15
Are exclusive territories available? Information Circle
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Franchise 500 Ranking History

Compare where Rita's Italian Ice landed on this year's Franchise 500 Ranking versus previous years.

Additional Rankings

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Updated: December 12th, 2022