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Rita’s Italian Ice offers year of free chilly treats for Franconia grand opening

Rita’s Italian Ice sells over 70 flavors of the frozen treat (courtesy Rita’s Italian Ice & Frozen Custard)

Though the heat of summer is waning, Rita’s Italian Ice & Frozen Custard hopes Franconia residents are still in the mood for some chilled desserts.

The Pennsylvania-based chain will hold a grand opening tomorrow (Thursday) for its new shop in Hayfield Shopping Center (7592 Telegraph Road), which is anchored by Planet Fitness and Goodwill.

Starting at 5 p.m., the first 50 people to line up for the event will receive coupons for a full year of free treats from that location. All customers will get slight discounts of $4 and $5, respectively, for a small Italian ice or a small gelati, which combines layers of Italian ice and frozen custard.

The grand opening will also feature a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 6 p.m., with merchandise giveaways and photo opportunities with the company’s mascot, Ice Guy, lasting from 5-7 p.m.

Rita’s Franconia franchise is owned by Terrain and Toya Davis, Kingstowne residents who wanted to “bring positive energy and a family-friendly atmosphere to their own backyard,” according to a press release.

The Davises partnered with Rita’s for their first franchise after frequenting the business as customers. Rita’s also has locations in Fairfax, Vienna and Chantilly, but the opportunity to bring it closer to home proved enticing.

“We desired a business opportunity that fostered a culture of family, community, and fun,” Terrain and Toya Davis said in an emailed statement. “By opening a Rita’s Italian Ice & Custard we’ve achieved that goal. Our guests are families spending quality time together and creating memories. We are able to engage with and give back to our community.”

In addition to running the brick-and-mortar store, which introduced itself to the community with a soft opening in June, the franchisees plan to introduce a food truck that will support events throughout Northern Virginia.

“The endless ‘Thanks for opening!’ we receive from guests is a real testament that partnering with this unique business originated in Philly was a great decision!” the Davises said. “It truly feels amazing to spread a little joy with each treat we serve.”

Launched in Bensalem, Pennsylvania, in 1984, Rita’s Italian Ice began life on former firefighter Bob Tumolo’s front porch, according to its website. Named after its founder’s wife, the company has expanded with franchises in more than 30 states.

Operating year-round with outdoor seating for eight customers, the 1,300-square-foot Franconia shop is open from noon to 8 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, extending its hours to 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

Like at other locations, the Italian ice is made fresh on-site and rotates daily through over 75 flavors. The menu also includes frozen custard, gelati, thick concretes, milkshakes and frozen drinks.

Those who miss out on tomorrow’s giveaways will have another opportunity to get free Italian ice. The company has an annual tradition of offering free cups on the first day of spring, which will fall on March 19 in 2024.