Rita’s Italian Ice & Frozen Custard, a beloved brand known for its delicious Italian Ice and Frozen Custard treats, is expanding into Kentucky. The brand recently announced its latest multi-unit deal to bring franchise locations to the state with the first slated to open in 2021. The agreement was finalized with a multi-generational family franchise team. This development is part of a larger goal to bring additional locations to markets such as Lexington, Louisville, Owensboro, Covington and Florence.
Soon to be a neighborhood favorite, the franchise group has already secured a location for their first shop at 1840 Christian Care Way – right off of Campbell Lane in the heart of the city. The 1500 square foot location will feature a drive-thru, a dine-in area for guests to enjoy treats on the spot and will be open year-round.
The local franchise will be owned and operated by a husband-and-wife team, David and Erin Smith, with the addition of Erin’s mother, Christine Hillard. Before moving to Bowling Green in 2002, David and Erin lived in Pennsylvania and would frequent their neighborhood Rita’s. While they fell in love with the Bowling Green community, they were disappointed to find out there were no Rita’s locations nearby. Two decades and three kids later, the Italian Ice franchise was still top of mind for the Smiths. In 2020, the two started researching franchises to invest in – Rita’s was first on the list. When they brought Erin’s mother, Christine, to try the Italian Ice, she was immediately hooked.
“Rita’s has always held a special place in our hearts, so when the opportunity arose to invest, we were incredibly excited to have the opportunity to bring the brand to Kentucky,” shars David Smith. “Erin, Christine and I can’t wait to introduce our neighborhood to a business that has meant so much to our family – we hope to one day pass this business down to our children. And, while Rita’s may not be a household name in Kentucky yet, you can bet it will be soon.”
Prior to becoming Rita’s franchisees, Christine, David and Erin have all been passionate about helping others and giving back to their local community. Erin works as a teacher at an area school, while David has spent the last two decades working at an auto body shop. Christine will bring her wealth of business management to the group as she’s currently a part-owner and operator of 27 radio stations throughout Kentucky and Tennessee. Christine will head up behind the scenes operations, such as bookkeeping and marketing, and David will be the day-to-day partner, leveraging his years of customer service experience.
“David and Erin have been long-time fans of the brand. When they brought me in, I was immediately impressed with the quality of the product, but also with the support of the Rita’s team,” explains Christine Hillard. “They have really perfected the franchise sales and development process, and have continued to provide expertise on everything from marketing to training to real estate selection. David, Erin and I all feel confident in our choice to invest in the Rita’s brand, and we know the community will fall in love with it just as we did!”
Bowling Green residents will come to love Rita’s refreshing Italian Ice, Gelatis, Concretes, Milkshakes and creamy Frozen Custard. Rita’s signature Italian Ice is made fresh daily and available in a rotating daily selection from over 90 flavors.
Rita’s is actively looking for additional franchisees to help develop the brand throughout Kentucky, specifically targeting Lexington, Louisville, Owensboro, Covington and Florence for growth. The brand is seeking to partner with hands-on entrepreneurs who are passionate about the brand and motivated to grow. Previous restaurant experience is a bonus, but not a necessity.