Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Rita's Italian Ice coming to Ammon's Sandcreek Commons

A selection of offerings from Rita's Italian Ice, coming to Sandcreek Commons Shopping Center.
Ice may be the last thing you’re in the mood for right now, but Rita’s Italian Ice is the newest business coming to the Sandcreek Commons shopping center.

The Trevose, Pa.-based chain announced it will be opening its store in Ammon, near Cabela’s and Hobby Lobby, in March 2016.

Dr. David Chamberlain, a general surgeon in Idaho Falls, has the rights to develop Rita’s in Idaho. He and his wife, Shawna, discovered Rita’s while in Utah and thought it represented a good investment opportunity. Under their agreement, they plan to build 12 stores in 10 years, of which the Sandcreek Commons location will be the first.

Rita’s has more than 600 stores nationwide, and has announced plans to also expand into Washington, Hawaii and San Jose, Calif. The company dates back to 1984, when Bob Tumolo, a former Philadelphia firefighter, started selling Italian Ice (also referred to as water ice) from a small porch window in Bensalem, Pa. With the modest goal of earning a little extra income, he named the business after his wife, Rita.

Rita’s Italian Ice was a hit with Philadelphians, who are arguably the most devoted and discriminating consumers of water ice in the United States (not to mention some of the most critical people in America, legendary for having booed Santa Claus at an Eagles halftime show once.) By 1987, Tumolo and his brother, John, had opened three more Rita’s locations to meet increasing demand, and in 1989, they started franchising the business. By 1996, Rita’s had grown to more than 100 outlets in nine states. In May 2005, the Tumolos sold the the franchise system to McKnight Capital Partners, under which the number of franchise agreements doubled from 109 in 2005 to 219 in 2006. By the company’s 25th birthday in 2009, it had expanded to more than 500 stores.

“It has been a banner year for growth and expansion,” said Eric Taylor, chief development officer at Rita’s Franchise Company. “We set out with a clear goal in mind — expand to new markets in the U.S., expand internationally and expand with new and creative concepts.”