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Franchise Deep Dive: Rita's Italian Ice Franchise Costs, Fees, Profit and Data

Rita's Italian Ice serves up frozen treats and gives franchisees two location types to choose from, with the option of operating seasonally or year-round.

By Erica InmanStaff Writer
Updated 11:11AM 01/25/24

LAST UPDATED: January 2024



REPORTED COST TO GET IN: $278,333 to $643,094

REPORTED ROI (Item 19): $161,647 to $342,925 (median gross sales)

Rita's Italian Ice is an Italian ice and frozen custard franchise concept. The brand offers two different shop models for franchisees to choose from, along with the option to provide catering services. 

How Many Rita's Italian Ice Locations Are There?

Rita’s Italian Ice got its start in 1984, on a hot summer day in Philadelphia. A former firefighter named Bob Tumolo and his mother began selling frozen treats (made with real fruit) from their front porch. Tumolo, who was just looking for some extra income, was surprised by the instant popularity of their Italian ices.

He decided to name the brand after his wife, Rita, and the business quickly grew. Tumolo sold the brand in 2005. Today, there are 500+ Rita’s Italian Ice locations around the world in 31 countries. 

What Is Rita's Italian Ice’s Business Model?

Rita’s Italian Ice offers frozen custard and Italian ice desserts. The brand also offers some take home treats such as frozen custard by the pint and frozen custard cookie sandwiches.

Rita’s Italian Ice offers franchisees two types of locations: a standard shop and an express unit.

The standard shop is the most popular choice and gives franchisees the option to operate their business seasonally or year-round. The model includes walk-up and walk-in service for consumers, as well as indoor or outdoor seating (depending on the location of the shop). Owners of a standard shop have the option to expand their business with a satellite or mobile unit and to add catering services for increased revenue.

An express unit typically doesn’t offer the full menu and can be located in places such as parks, universities, sports arenas, airports or theme parks. 

How Much Can Rita's Italian Ice Franchise Owners Make?

According to the brand’s 2021 Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD), the median gross sales in 2020 ranged from $161,647 to $342,925.

The top tier of shops, which included 141 locations, had a median gross sales of $342,925. The middle tier of shops, including 142 locations, had a median gross sales of $240,504. The bottom tier of shops, including 141 locations, had a median gross sales of $161,647.

The median gross sales for 2019 ranged from $156,33 to $321,286. The 160 top tier shops achieved median gross sales of $321,286, while the 161 middle tier shops had median gross sales of $230,039 and the 160 bottom tier shops earned median gross sales of $156,338.

How Much Does It Cost To Open Rita's Italian Ice?

The total initial investment necessary ranges from $278,333 to $643,094.

For a standard shop model, without a drive-thru, the initial investment ranges from $278,333 to $624,695. For a standard shop model with a drive-thru, the initial investment ranges from $420,773 to $643,094.

Franchisees are also required to have a minimum cash liquidity of $100,000 and a minimum net worth of $300,000.

What Is the Franchise Fee for Rita's Italian Ice?

Rita's Italian Ice requires franchisees to pay a franchise fee of $35,000 for those investing in a standard shop model or $15,000 for those investing in an express unit model. The franchisee is required to pay this fee directly to the franchisor. 

Who’s On Rita's Italian Ice’s Leadership Team?

What Helpful Articles Can I Read to Learn More About Rita's Italian Ice?

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