Rita’s Water Ice announced today the opening of its 500th store, located in Mooresville, North Carolina. The Mooresville store is the third Rita’s location to open in North Carolina in the past three months and marks the company’s continued strategic expansion. In 2007, Rita’s opened 86 stores with plans to open an additional 14 locations before the end of the year.

“The opening of our 500th location is not only a special day for Rita’s but a testament to our guests’ loyalty and the hard work of our franchise partners and staff,” says Jim Rudolph, Rita’s CEO and chairman of the board. “This is only the beginning of great things to come as we continue to expand and build the Rita’s brand by providing quality treats paired with superior service.”

The franchise organization has come a long way since its humble beginnings on the porch of a home in Philadelphia in 1984. Since Rudolph took the company helm in 2005, Rita’s has seen unprecedented growth. The number of new store openings has dramatically increased: 33 stores in 2005; 68 in 2006; and 86 to date in 2007. In addition, in 2007 the company has added three new states to its growing footprint: North Carolina, Georgia, and Massachusetts.

To honor the grand opening of the 500th location, Rita’s held a special event on November 2 which included a ribbon cutting, and check presentation to Mooresville’s Habitat for Humanity chapter, Our Towns Habitat For Humanity. Guests of the Mooresville location were treated to a free regular size Italian Ice from 11 a.m.-9 p.m. and the first 500 people also received a plush replica of Ice Guy, Rita’s official mascot.

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