Rita’s Italian Ice unveiled plans to have a presence in convenience stores, gas stations and travel plazas around the country. Rita’s will operate inside existing convenience stores, much like Subway and Dunkin’ Donuts already do in the area.
Plans call for 60 new units by 2025 with 10 by the end of this year. The first one opened last month in Newbury Park, Calif.
Mo Boutara, senior director of franchise development at Rita’s, said they’ll function as “dedicated express units” that only need about 200 square feet to operate. They’ll offer a full menu and be open year-round.
“We’re going to be in a good position to cherry-pick the best locations as to not dilute brand,” Boutara said. He noted that they’ll be looking to partner with well-known brands like Shell, Sunoco and ConocoPhillips.
Rita’s is partnering with M&M ARC Inc. for the development of locations in the West and Ice & Go LLC for locations in the Midwest, South and Northeast.
Rita’s is examining the possibility of bringing the new business model to Philadelphia, but doesn’t have concrete plans just yet. Boutara said the company wants to make sure that any new Rita’s locations inside gas stations or convenience stores won’t overlap with existing Rita’s stores.
The company hopes that the gas station or convenience store owners will also be the franchisees, but it’s not required.
The Trevose, Pa.-based business already has 600 stores nationwide and has announced plans for international expansion to China, the Caribbean, and Middle Eastern countries like Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.
“We’ve taken Rita’s proven Italian Ice concept and tailored it to the convenience store channel,” said Scott Stevens, owner of Ice & Go in a statement. “Rita’s C&G model has potential to be hugely successful for franchisees, as well as the entire Rita’s system, and I couldn’t be more excited to grow my portfolio and bring my business and personal vision to life.”