Falconhead Capital, a private equity firm specializing in growing consumer-focused businesses, announced the acquisition of a controlling stake in Rita's Water Ice Franchise Company, from an investment group led by Jim Rudolph.
Jim Rudolph has retained a minority stake and has been named Vice Chairman. Thomas Christopoul, an Operating Partner at Falconhead, has been named Chairman and interim Chief Executive Officer of Rita's.
A search is underway for a full time Chief Executive Officer. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
Rita's was founded in 1984 by Bob Tumolo, a former Philadelphia firefighter who, alongside his mother Elizabeth and brother John, made and sold Italian Ice from their small porch window.
Today, the brand has grown exponentially to approximately 550 franchise locations in 18 states. It was recently recognized by Zagat as the #2 outlet in the Top Ice Cream/Custard category and by The Wall Street Journal's 'Startup Journal' as one of the Top-25 Franchise High Performers.
"We are delighted to acquire Rita's, one of the largest frozen treat concepts in the country with considerable growth potential,” says David S. Moross, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Falconhead Capital.
“Jim Rudolph and his team have done a great job scaling the business since acquiring it in 2005. We look forward to partnering with Rita's loyal and dedicated franchisees as we work to build the value of this emerging brand."
"This transaction is an important vote of confidence in the Rita's concept and a positive development for our franchisees. Falconhead is an ideal owner for our business given their successful track record investing in and supporting consumer-facing businesses,” Mr. Rudolph says.
“David and his team will be excellent stewards of the brand and will have my full support as they pursue a number of exciting growth initiatives. Together, we look forward to continuing the tradition of 'Ice, Custard, Happiness' that has won us an extremely loyal and active fan base over the years, and ensuring that Rita's remains a great place to work for our 'Treat Team Members'."
Falconhead Capital, with $400 million of assets under management, is a private investment firm established in 1998 to provide investors with significant long-term capital appreciation by investing globally in consumer-focused businesses.
Rita's Franchise Company, headquartered in Trevose, Pa., is the largest Italian Ice concept in the nation, currently operating in 18 states with approximately 550 stores.