Beat the heat with Rita’s Italian Ice

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Photo by Alyse Horn
Rita’s Italian Ice, 401 E. Ohio St.

By Alyse Horn

Rita’s Italian Ice is a staple in the summer; adults and kids alike will flock to the store on a hot day to get a gelato or misto, said owner Galen Moorer.

Nestled at 401 E Ohio St., Moorer said November 6, 2018 will mark 10 years since he opened the store. It’s a venture he never thought he’d pursue, but it has worked out well for him.

Moorer said he would frequently stop at Rita’s locations in the late 2000s for lunch or with his oldest son, who was around 5 at the time. Moorer’s brother also went to college in Philadelphia so he was “familiar with the franchise.”

After Moorer graduated college with a Master’s Degree in corporate finance, he said his Dad jokingly told him that because he should invest in Rita’s because he spent so much time there. He said no, but about two weeks later, Moorer saw an ad in the newspaper for a Rita’s interest meeting and he decided to go.

Rita’s is a franchise, Moorer explained, and companies in that realm will hold interest meetings around different areas as a way to give more information to potential business owners.

“I wanted to start my own business, but I didn’t know what that would be,” Moorer said.

Now, after almost a decade, Moorer has become a professional at mixing up batches of ice and custard. He said has gotten it down to a science and has “virtually zero” waste at the end of a day. Out of the 70 flavors that Rita’s offer; the East Ohio Street location will carry 13 to 17 flavors daily.

His most popular flavor is Swedish Fish and the second is Mango. Recently, a Twizzlers flavor was added that has been working its way up in the ranks.

Rita’s also offers all natural ice, which Moore said has real fruit, no high fructose corn syrup and less sugar. Pineapple is the most popular of the natural ice, and it sells so well that he has stopped making regular pineapple all together.

With demand low in the winter, Moore only has his location open from March until October. He believes that despite marketing tactics, sales are “110 percent dependent on the weather.”

“It it’s sunny, you’re busy. If it’s cloudy, you’re slow.”

Rita’s is open daily from 12-8 p.m.

The Local Marketplace Section is supported by PNC Community Development Banking with funding from the PNC Foundation.

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