Rita’s Italian Ice ‘the In-N-Out of desserts’ coming to Carson City

Rita’s Italian Ice, called the In-N-Out of desserts, is coming to Carson City along with an influx of the franchise company’s outlets in the region.

Claiming it’s the world’s largest Italian ice and frozen custard concept due to more than 600 stores, Rita’s company announced from its headquarters in Pennsylvania an investment group called San Francisco Ice Empire, Inc., is bringing at least 60 additional outlets and more than 400 jobs to northern California and Nevada.

In Nevada, the five counties involved include Carson City, which is a consolidated city-county jurisdiction, and the four in the immediate vicinity: Washoe; Storey; Lyon, and Douglas. In California, 28 counties will be covered with new Rita’s Italian Ice outlets by the investment group, among them several in the Sierra Nevada foothills region just west of Carson City, Douglas County to the south and Washoe County to the north.

San Francisco Ice Empire (SFIE) and a sister company, East Bay Ice Empire, are expected to open a total of 125 locations with a dozen of them anticipated this year. Lisa Rasmussen, president of SFIE, made the comparison to In-N-Out restaurant outlets.

“The only way to explain Rita’s to those in the West who have not yet experienced it is to compare it to In-N-Out — it’s the In-N-Out of desserts” Rasmussen said.

Misty Young, SFIE vice president, said the firm has sold nearly two-thirds of its 10-year plan in the first seven months, “so we had no choice but to expand.” She said SFIE is interested in multi-unit franchise investors seeking to expand holdings and enhance cash flow positions.

Build out for SFIE, according to backers, is expected to net 450 jobs in the 33 counties involved. If a store is built from scratch, according to the franchise firm’s release, the transaction could represent up to $10 million in construction and development budgets overall.

Rita’s operates in 27 states and is expanding internationally with an operating location in the Philippines and stores planned for both Canada and the Middle East. The firm, headquartered in Trevose, Penn., has been named one of the Top 25 Franchise High Performers by The Wall Street Journal’s Startup Journal and ranks 81st on Entepreneur Magazine’s 2014 Franchise 500 list, the company reported.

The firm also was recognized by Nation’s Restaurant News as 14th in the “limited service” category and first as a 2014 consumer pick for service and value in the frozen treat category, according to the announcement release.


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