Is A Florida Business Making Fake Rita’s Water Ice?
Yes, it’s not hard to find Philly expatriates in sunny places, each of them with a thirst for an old favorite: Rita’s Water Ice. It’s why the company is granting new franchises to California owners for this spring and summer. But now the company is suing a Florida franchisee it says made and sold “wooder ice” and custard under Rita’s name—even though Rita’s recipes and mixes aren’t being used.
Rita’s Water Ice Franchise Company filed a lawsuit April 17 in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania against Annie L. Bobenreith, Keith E. Bobenreith and Ronald Henkel.
In its complaint, Rita’s alleges it has discovered that the Bobenreiths have continued to sell unauthorized products, such as custard, bottled water and waffle cones, under Rita’s name, even though the company has prohibited the defendants from doing so.
The Bobenreiths own the Rita’s franchise, it seems, but Rita’s officials have determined ” that the defendants were using non-authorized items under the guise of Rita’s products.” Rita’s served a notice that it was terminating the franchise with the Bobenreiths, according to the suit, but the owners refused to take down Rita’s signs or abide by a non-compete clause in the franchise agreement: The family is accused of starting a new business, “Aloha Ice,” using information learned while running the Rita’s franchise.
It’s complicated. All we know is this: If you want real Rita’s, come home to Philly.