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Rita's Ice

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Posted: Friday, April 29, 2011 12:31 pm

ADDRESS: 8251 W. Union Hills Drive, Suite 105, Glendale, at 83rd Avenue and Union Hills Drive, on the southeast corner just west of Loop 101.

PHONE NUMBER: 602-909-8566.

HOURS: Noon to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, noon to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. After Memorial Day, the shop will be open until 10 p.m. daily.

OWNER: Barbara Knight.

CUISINE: Italian ice and custard.

SEATS: 18 seats (seven tables) inside, covered patio in front with seating for 12.

OPEN SINCE: April 6.

WEBSITE: www.RitasFranchises.com/Arrowhead or www.RitasIce.com.

SPECIALTY OF THE HOUSE: Rita’s signature product is its Italian ice (often referred to as water ice), which is much smoother than a snow cone and combines ice with real fresh fruit; made on site daily from scratch and served within 36 hours. Real fruit adds to the flavor of the ice, which comes in more than 50 different varieties (12-15 offered daily) including the standard cherry and lemon, strawberry, wild black cherry, banana, blueberry and raspberry, just to name a few. Rita’s also offers Cream Ice — Italian ice flavors that are as smooth and silky as ice cream but without the heaviness. Cream ice flavors include cookies ‘n’ cream, mint chocolate chip, fudge brownie, cheesecake cream and more. In addition, the chain offers old fashioned frozen custard and layered gelati, as well as its signature Misto and Blendini creations. The best-selling Italian ice flavor is mango, and the signature product is a gelati, which is a layer of custard covered in a cupful of Italian ice, topped with a dollop of custard, Knight said. “Also, try the Funky Chunky Monkey Blendini (banana Italian ice with chunks of real banana), swirled with chocolate custard and Nilla wafers), or the English toffee cheesecake (cheescake Italian ice, swirled with vanilla custard and Heath English toffee),” Knight said.

AVAILABLE FOR: Dine in, take out, catering and fund-raising opportunities.

PRICE RANGE: $2.29 for a regular size Italian ice to $3.99 for a Misto (Rita’s version of a shake), or a Blendini (custard with a mix-in, such as Reese’s peanut butter cups or Oreo, swirled together with your choice of flavored Italian ice).

WHAT ELSE YOU SHOULD KNOW: Rita’s will celebrate its grand opening with festivities from noon to 10 p.m. May 28. All guests that day who visit Rita’s will receive a free frozen treat in the available flavor of their choice. Rita’s Ice includes regular and sugar-free options. The first 100 people through the door that day will receive free ice for one full year. Festivities include a ribbon cutting by the Glendale Chamber of Commerce, dancing mascot (Ice Guy), music and face painting for the kids. Because Rita’s also offers sugar-free ice, the grand opening event is supporting the Juvenile Diabetes Association and will present a donation to the association that day.

UNIQUE TIDBITS: This is the first Rita’s location in Arizona. Daily specials will be posted on the shop’s website. Sugar free, diabetic-friendly options, as well as fat-free “Slenderita” options, are available. “Opening Rita’s here in Arizona is a dream come true, as I have grown up loving Rita’s in my home state of Pennsylvania, where Rita’s is based,” Knight said.  “The quality and unique variety of our ices speak for themselves and is why Rita’s is enjoyed by so many people. It’s a refreshing change from the ordinary and a great complement to anyone’s Memorial Day get-together.” Rita’s Franchise Company, headquartered in Trevose, Penn., is the largest Italian ice concept in the nation, currently operating in 17 states with more than 500 stores.

FUTURE PLANS: Additional franchises will be opening in Arizona later this year. The Glendale location will offer a mobile cart to take to outdoor events, fairs and festivals in the next six to eight months.

SLOGAN: “Rita’s Ice Custard Happiness — Real Fruit, Real Fresh, Come to Rita’s!”

Do you know of a great West Valley restaurant you’d like to see in our Dining Out feature? Let us know! Call Brittany Martin at 623-876-2527 or e-mail bwoodruff@yourwestvalley.com.

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