Living in Florida just got sweeter because Rita’s Italian Ice & Frozen Custard – the beloved brand known for its delicious Italian ice and frozen custard treats – recently opened at 2511 FL 60, East Valrico.

The new neighborhood favorite shop is locally owned and operated by husband-and-wife team, Antoine and Idalice Stokes, and their longtime friend Raafi Forde. Antoine and Raafi met when they joined the military at age 18 and have been close friends ever since. Although life took them in different directions, the three reunited in the Tampa area where they all now reside. Prior going into business together, Antoine and Idalice raised their three older children in Maryland and worked in IT and the mortgage world, respectively. Raafi previously worked in IT and lived in Maryland with his family before moving Seattle. Their longtime dream of going into business together is what ultimately drew them all to Florida. They plan to open three more Rita’s locations in the near future.

“Rita’s has always been such a big part of our lives and our children’s lives, as it was the one treat we could all agree on – and with big families, that’s not always an easy task,” says Idalice Stokes. “When the opportunity to bring Rita’s to our community presented itself, we couldn’t pass it up because it’s always been a goal of ours to enter the franchising world. We look forward to giving back to our community in any way we can and expanding this concept into other Florida communities in the near future.”

To welcome Rita’s to the neighborhood, the Stokes and Forde will be hosting a grand opening event on November 4 from 3-5pm that will include a ribbon cutting, live music, Ice Guy mascot, $2 Small Italian Ice and $3 Small Gelati, and a raffle giving out one free year of Rita’s for 50 lucky customers.

Rita’s signature Italian Ice is made fresh daily and available in a rotating daily selection from over 90 flavors. The Italian Ice is made on-site daily and Rita’s has a freshness policy where all unused ice will be discarded after 36 hours. Other menu items at Rita’s include gelatis, concretes, milkshakes and creamy frozen custard.

Rita’s is actively looking for additional franchisees to help develop the brand throughout the country. The brand is seeking to partner with hands-on entrepreneurs who are passionate about the brand and motivated to grow.

Fast Casual, Franchising, Growth, News, Rita's Italian Ice