In June 2015, Roxbury native Patricia Shelton announced that she’d be the local franchisee for Pennsylvania-based Rita’s Italian Ice, a company with over 600 locations around the country (but none in Massachusetts) and beyond. Shelton planned to open 30 Rita’s in the Boston metro area — eyeing areas such as Jamaica Plain, Allston/Brighton, Roxbury, Hingham, and beyond — and this week, the first location holds its grand opening in Chelsea. (The doors quietly opened last month.)
Located at 170 Everett Ave., Rita’s celebrates its grand opening this Thursday, October 13 with free Italian ice all day. Plus, 50 opening day customers will win free Italian ice for a year; to enter, sign up for Rita’s Birthday Club and also bring a donation item for Citizen Schools (school supplies such as markers and crayons, tape, and scissors). This location has seating inside and outside, and it’s right by the Mystic Mall.
Shelton’s 29 other locations are slated to open by 2023 in Norfolk, Plymouth, Suffolk, and Middlesex counties.
The company has been around since 1984 and serves a range of "cool treats," including a huge variety of Italian ice flavors (from Swedish fish to peanut butter and jelly); "cream ice" that is "more creamy than icy" (flavors include oatmeal raisin cookie, mint chocolate chip, red velvet cake, and more); frozen custard, along with custard cakes and custard cookie sandwiches; gelati; a blended drink called the Blendini (the customer chooses a flavor of Italian ice, frozen custard, and a topping to mix in); and more.
CORRECTION, 10/12/16: As several readers have pointed out, this isn't the first Rita's to open in Massachusetts; there was once a location in Salem, but it closed several years ago.