Rita's Italian Ice, the world's largest Italian Ice concept with more than 600 stores, continues its impressive expansion into the fourth quarter, awarding four new area development deals for Washington, Idaho, Hawaii, and Ventura County and San Jose, California, respectively. The company opened 2015 with a renewed focus on growth at home and abroad, and as a result has opened more than 55 stores and awarded eight area development agreements in one year alone.

While 2015 has brought Rita's into international markets, the company remains committed to domestic growth from coast to coast and most recently awarded agreements to: Mark Velicer of Velicer Ice Corp Inc. for the development of the state of Washington; David Chamberlain for the development of the state of Idaho; Dean Park of Hawaiian Island Treats LLC for the development of the state of Hawaii; and Humza Chowdhry and Annie Navqi of Amiracle Ice Company LLC for the development of Ventura County and San Jose, California. Combined, these agreements project a total of more than 100 new stores by 2030 and the creation of more than 1,500 jobs.

"Rita's is exploding nationwide," says Mark Velicer, president of Velicer Ice. "My family and I have been avid customers of Rita's since being introduced to the brand on the East Coast and have recently seen the company take off in a very smart and strategic way. It quickly became clear that there was no question that I had to get in on the action and thus 'Rita's in Washington' was born."

Velicer will be the first to bring Rita's Italian Ice and its "cool treats" to the Evergreen state. His aggressive plans entail more than 40 stores within 15 years, targeting areas such as Issaquah, Sammamish, and Redmond.

Neighboring Washington, David Chamberlain will continue Rita's expansion of the West Coast with an agreement for the development of the state of Idaho. The plan calls for 12 units within 10 years, with the first store opening in March of 2016 at the Sandcreek Commons shopping area in Idaho Falls.

At that same time, Dean Park will be introducing Rita's "cool treats" in Honolulu—the company's first of 20 store locations projected to open on the Hawaii Islands by 2025. Park, a local entrepreneur and pilot for Hawaiian Airlines, is hoping to bring Rita's stores and mobile units to each of Hawaii's islands.

"Beyond Rita's impressive growth story, we've been drawn to the nontraditional concepts that have become a focus for the company," says Humza Chowdhry co-owner of Amiracle Ice Company along with Annie Navqi. "There's great opportunity for Rita's 'cool treats' at fun locations such as stadiums and amusement parks, and we're looking forward to breaking into this new arena and creating a prototype for the rest of the system."

Under the direction of Chowdhry and Navqi, Amiracle Ice opened its first stadium location this month in San Jose at the SAP Center and will open a second unit in February 2016. The two locations are part of two larger agreements—one as multiunit franchisees for the entire city of San Jose and one as Area Developers for Ventura County, which call for more than 26 locations combined.

"It has been a banner year for growth and expansion," says 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. It's amazing to look back and see the progress we've made in reaching each of those goals, and we hope to carry this momentum into 2016."

Franchising, News, Rita's Italian Ice