Rita’s Italian Ice, one of the nation’s largest Italian Ice concepts with over 600 outlets in 20 states, announced Michael Lorelli, an operating partner of Falconhead Capital, a private equity firm specializing in growing consumer-focused and franchise businesses, which acquired Rita’s in 2011, has been named executive chairman of the board. Lorelli had been an outside director since the Falconhead acquisition.
“There is a powerful opportunity to expand the very loyal Rita’s customer base both within the existing geography, as well as in new U.S. and International markets,” says Mike Lorelli, executive chairman. “Rita’s opened its first three California outlets in June, and expansion efforts are underway in other western states and International markets. The first units in China are slated for fall openings.”
Lorelli is also interim CEO, and is spearheading the search for a President, following the departure of Jonathan Fornaci. When the search is completed, he will continue in his role as executive chairman. According to Lorelli, “The candidate profile is really pretty simple. . . deep experience in the QSR (Quick Service Restaurant) space, leadership experience in franchising, and a strong fit within the very unique and special Rita’s culture.”
Mike Lorelli’s 30-year career spans a wide range of consumer products and services, and B2B categories, with responsibilities for both domestic and international units. At PepsiCo, Lorelli served as chief executive officer of Pizza Hut’s International division where he led a “global or bust” charge, resulting in expanding the Company’s presence from 68 to 92 countries, surpassing McDonalds in country count. He served as president of Pepsi-Cola East, a $1.5 billion operating company, and chief marketing officer for PepsiCo’s beverage sector. He was most recently chief executive of WaterJel Technologies, and has led four private equity companies as CEO. Mike is a director of CP Kelco, and iControl, and has his MBA from NYU’s Stern School of Business. He also holds Masters Accreditations at both the National Association of Corporate Directors, and The American College of Corporate Directors. Lorelli succeeds Tom Christopoul as chairman of Rita’s following his departure.