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Name:  Joseph M. DeAngelis
Position: General Manager of Rita’s Italian Ices
Location: 1327 Surf Ave Brooklyn, New York

1) Who is Rita?

Rita is a real person. Her story dates back the sweltering summer of 1984 when Bob Tumolo, a former Philadelphia firefighter, decided to open a small Italian ice business to augment his income.  Bob is the first owner of Rita’s, which opened in Bensalem, PA. He named his businesses after his dear wife, Rita.

2) Can you tell us about the process involved in making water ice? How do you achieve such a smooth texture? 

We make our Italian ice using Rita’s Italian ice syrup, and we use a special machine designed for our product.  This allows us to achieve a smooth and juicy texture that is full of flavor. I can’t really get into specifics on how the machine works or the process as it is a top secret device designed only for Rita’s.

3) What is the difference between ice cream and custard?

Custard was invented in Coney Island in 1912.  Unlike ice cream, custard uses dairy along with egg yolk and only premium ingredients.  The egg yolk allows the product to be held at a lower temperature so it will not melt as quickly as ice cream and overall makes a better and fuller product.  Also, custard is made differently so it is much richer and creamier than ice cream.

4) What is your most popular flavor?

Our most popular flavors of Italian ice are mango and cotton candy. The second most popular flavor is our famous cherry Italian ice, followed by Swedish Fish. Keep in mind, we have well over 100 flavors ranging from fruit flavors to flavors of candies, soda, and juice such as Sour Patch Kids, Jolly Ranchers, Hawaiian Punch, and Dr. Pepper.

5) What is the most unusual flavor that’s ever been featured on the Rita’s menu?

A unique flavor we offer is peanut butter and jelly, which can be made with strawberry or grape jelly flavor using a strawberry mix or grape mix.

6) Who was your most memorable customer?

I have many who stand out in my memory.  One of them is named Stanley.  Stanley comes to Rita’s almost every day very late when we are ready to close up.  He always checks if we have passion fruit flavor, and usually gets two flavors side by side.  Although I do not remember everyone’s name, I know everyone’s faces.  You can find most of our guests on our Instagram page @ritasconeyisland.  Anyone who wants to be on the Rita’s Instagram can just ask a staff member to take their photo and we post it in minutes!

7) Who dreams up your flavors? Do you take suggestions?

Rita’s has an extensive research and development department, which creates new and unique flavors and treats. We are always working and collaborating with national brands of soda and candy companies to come up with new and exciting mixtures. But you should know, anyone can come up with the latest Rita’s flavor; all you have to do is submit your idea to our website and you never know, your flavor may be on our next menu.

8) You recently celebrated your 33rd anniversary! How has Rita’s evolved during the past 3 decades?

When Rita’s first began, the only flavors were lemon, cherry, chocolate, and Pina Colada.  Today we have well over 100 flavors and 8 treats that can be combined into literally thousands of delicious combinations.

9) What’s new in development?

We are currently the area developers for Brooklyn, meaning we are the only ones allowed to open a Rita’s in the area  Currently we have open agreements in the Flatbush and Brighton Beach area with more development soon to come!

10) Any advice for someone who is interested in opening a business or franchise?

You need to have A LOT of patience and passion for the field.

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