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Posts Tagged ‘Rita’s Italian Ice’

Rita's Coney Island

Rita’s Coney Island on Surf Avenue and West 15th Street. April 9, 2016.

Rita’s Italian Ice on Surf Avenue across from the Thunderbolt roller coaster has a new owner, Joseph DeAngelis, and a brand-new schedule. It is no longer closed for the Jewish Sabbath – from dusk on Friday until sundown on Saturday– and is now open 7 days a week. That means you can get a frozen custard for the first time on Fireworks Fridays and on Saturday afternoons. Hours are noon to 10:00pm, with later hours during the summer months.

Two years ago, this Rita’s franchise brought back frozen custard, one of Coney Island’s lost delights, to its place of origin. The dessert made its debut in 1919 when the Kohr brothers opened a stand on the Coney Island Boardwalk, selling 18,460 cones for a nickel apiece on the first weekend! Kohr’s Frozen Custard is still in business on the Boardwalks at Seaside Heights and Casino Pier on the Jersey Shore but Kohr’s has shown no interest in making a Coney Island comeback. Businesses in Coney which sell ice cream, gelato or soft serve hadn’t made any move to bring back frozen custard either, despite the recommendations of old-timers.

“Rita’s products are prepared under Star-K Kosher supervision and non-dairy is still pareve,” says DeAngelis, who is one of the franchise’s top operators, with five locations in New York’s Dutchess County. The Coney Island store has a clientele that reaches beyond seasonal visitors to the amusement area. It was a destination for Jewish residents of Brooklyn seeking kosher ices, nevertheless the business was struggling, according to DeAngelis. He was brought in by Rita’s to make a success of the location. Unlike the previous owners, who were observant Jews, DeAngelis is Catholic and does not have to close for Shabbat.

The storefront got a fresh coat of paint and has already opened for the season, but DeAngelis says he’s planning a grand-re-opening celebration. Rita’s offers Italian ice, frozen custard, layered gelati, sundaes with a choice of toppings, sugar-free treats, and trademark items that blend Italian ice with frozen custard. The business is among a growing number of national and international franchises and chains leasing space on high-priced Surf Avenue in the new Coney Island.

Frozen custard

Frozen custard from Rita’s Italian Ice. Photo via Facebook.com/RitasItalianIceCompany

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Rita's Coney Island

Rita’s Coney Island closed on the Sabbath, May 31, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

Rita’s of Coney Island, which sells Italian ice and frozen custard, has new hours after the premises were kosher certified by the Orthodox Union. The store at Surf Avenue and West 15th Street will be closed for the Jewish Sabbath, from sundown on Fridays till sundown on Saturdays, store owner Ezra Shalam told ATZ. While it’s unprecedented for a Coney Island business to be closed during Friday night fireworks and Saturday afternoons, the store has a growing clientele that reaches beyond seasonal visitors to the amusement park. In the few weeks that Rita’s has been open it has already become a destination for Jewish residents of Brooklyn who are seeking kosher ices.

“We have a very big Jewish following. I even underestimated the reach,” said Shalam, who expected residents of Sea Gate, Brighton Beach and Sheepshead Bay to patronize the store, which is the only Rita’s in Brooklyn. “We’re getting customers from Flatbush, Midwood and Borough Park,” Shalam adds. Customers are traveling from a distance and taking home tubs of Rita’s ices.

Rita's Coney Island

Students from Yeshiva Magen David High School SGO bringing Rita’s to school. Photo via Ritas’s Coney Island Facebook

“Rita’s Coney Island products are OU certified as we have stated since we opened. Our store itself was in the process of being certified. However it took some time as the OU is very thorough,” says a post on Rita’s Facebook page. Last week, a follower on Instagram had falsely claimed that Rita’s products were not kosher and the accusations caused a stampede of phone calls and Facebook messages. The certification of the store was fast tracked by the OU at the owner’s request and finalized on Friday. Since Shalam is an Orthodox Jew, the store is now required to close on the Sabbath, when Coney Island is at its busiest.

Rita’s Coney Island franchise opened on April 13th and will remain open through mid-October. The store is located on the north side of Surf Avenue across the street from the newly built Thunderbolt roller coaster. In the New York metro area, Rita’s year-round locations are on Broadway at 92nd Street in Manhattan – the only other store in New York City –and several locations in New Jersey

Rita's Coney Island

Ice Guy, Rita’s Costumed Character, on the Coney Island Boardwalk. Photo via Rita’s Coney Island Facebook

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May 30, 2014: Coney Island Fireworks 2014: Fridays, Six Saturdays, and More

May 26, 2014: Photo Album: Opening Day for 5 New Businesses & Exhibits in Coney Island

May 19, 2014: New Thunderbolt Loops the Loop Again in Coney Island

January 3, 2014: New Year, New Franchise: Rita’s Italian Ice Coming to Coney Island

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Coney Island signage

Coney Island signage in Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park with Luna Park’s Electro Spin, Air Race and Cyclone in background. March 21, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita

Coney Island’s amusements officially open for the season in just one day–on Palm Sunday! Freebies abound at the People’s Playground for early birds who relish being among the first as well as for casual visitors all day long.

–The first 100 people on line at both the landmark Cyclone and Wonder Wheel will get a free ride. Rides open after the 11am Blessing of the Rides at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park and the 11:45am Egg Cream Christening at the Cyclone. For the rest of the day, a ride on the Cyclone, which usually costs $9, will be discounted to $6. At Deno’s, over 200 Coney Island kids from the local Salt and Sea Mission will be treated to free rides, toys and Easter bags. In addition to face-painters and stiltwalkers, Ray Balloons will be on hand to make free balloon animals for visitors and DJ Joe will spin tunes on the Boardwalk.

face-painters, balloon artists, a DJ, and stilt-walkers

–The Coney Island History Project‘s exhibition center, where historic artifacts, photographs, maps, ephemera and films are on view, offers free admission from 1 till 6pm. Visitors are invited to take free souvenir photos with the Spook-A-Rama Cyclops or an original Steeplechase horse. Next door to the History Project are windows featuring the dancing doll “Miss Coney Island” and the miniature animated rides of “Coney Island Always.” “25 cents to laugh. 25 cents to smile.”

Coney Island Always

Coney Island Always. 25 cents To Laugh and Feel Good. West 12th St, Coney Island. April 8, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

–Coney Island USA’s Noisefest is a free event from 2 till 5pm featuring Rock ‘n’ Roll Karaoke with the band Mystical Children and a “Follow the Bouncing Ball Vintage Movie Singalong” by the Museum of Interesting Things.

Rita’s Italian Ice is celebrating the Grand Opening of its Coney Island store by offering free regular size ices to visitors all day Sunday as well as Monday.

The rides at Luna Park, Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, 12th Street Amusements and the Eldorado Bumper Cars will continue spinning daily through April 22nd during spring break for New York City’s public schools. For the rest of April and May, the rides will be open weekends until Memorial Day Weekend, when the daily schedule kicks off for the summer.

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February 28, 2014: Photo Album: Wonder Wheel Park Preps for Coney Island’s Opening Day

September 13, 2013: Coney Island Always: Visiting the Big CI Year-Round

March 25, 2013: Photo of the Day: Palms on Palm Sunday in Coney Island

March 28, 2012: Photo Album: Looking Back at Coney Island’s Opening Day

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Frozen custard

Frozen custard from Rita’s Italian Ice. Photo via Facebook.com/RitasItalianIceCompany

The year is only three days old and already another new franchise is set to come to Coney Island in 2014. Rita’s Italian Ice, a company whose tag line is “Ice, Custard and Happiness” will open a store on Surf Avenue in Coney Island. Broker Joe Vitacco tells ATZ he signed a lease with a Rita’s franchise owner for the 1,500 square foot space at 1329 Surf Avenue, on the corner of Surf and West 15th Street. The store is located across the street from Nathan’s and Williams Candy and is expected to be open seasonally, probably from March through October. The current tenant, a social club, will move next door.

Rita’s menu offers Italian ice, frozen custard, layered gelati, sundaes with a choice of 20 toppings, sugar-free treats, and trademark items that blend Italian ice with frozen custard.

Frozen custard is of course one of the lost delights of Coney Island. The dessert made its debut in 1919 when the Kohr brothers opened a stand on the Coney Island Boardwalk. The nickel treat was a sensation, selling 18,460 cones on the first weekend!

sundae with toppings

Frozen custard sundae with toppings from Rita’s Italian Ice. Photo via Facebook.com/RitasItalianIceCompany

Kohr’s Frozen Custard is still in business on the Boardwalks at Seaside Heights and Casino Pier on the Jersey Shore but Kohr’s has shown no interest in making a Coney Island comeback. Businesses in Coney Island which sell ice cream, gelato and soft serve haven’t made any move to bring back frozen custard either, despite the recommendations of old-timers. It’s ironic that thanks to a popular international chain headquartered in Trevose, Pennyslvania, we can look forward to the return of this treat to its place of origin and the celebration of National Frozen Custard Day on August 8th.

Rita’s has over 600 outlets in 21 states and is the latest of a growing number of national and international franchises and chains leasing space on high-priced Surf Avenue in the new Coney Island.

Back in 2012, ATZ asked “Will Coney Island’s Surf Ave Become a Mecca for Franchises?” (December 19, 2012). Clearly, the answer is yes. Like attracts like. In 2014, Johnny Rockets, Red Mango and Subway Cafe, which are currently under construction, will join It’Sugar, Applebee’s, Popeye’s, Dunkin’ Donuts/Baskin Robbins and Subway on the main drag of Coney’s amusement district. Also on Surf and in a category unto itself is Nathan’s original 1916 store, which is a year-round magnet for tourists, and Brooklyn-grown Grimaldi’s Pizzeria.

According to the franchise’s website, Rita’s is the world’s largest Italian ice concept and opened its first international outlet in October in Shenzhen, China. The franchisor for Southern China plans to open 31 outlets over 10 years.

Rita's Italian Ice

Rita’s Italian Ice, Yonkers, NY Store. Via Facebook.com/RitasItalianIceCompany

In the New York metro area, Rita’s year-round locations are on Broadway at 92nd Street in Manhattan –the only store in New York City–and several locations in New Jersey, including Hoboken, and the Izod Center and MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ. The majority of stores in New York and neighboring states such as New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennyslvania are open seasonally from March through October. Investment firm Falconhead Capital LLC owns a controlling interest in Rita’s, which was founded in 1984 as a Mom-and-Pop product sold from a porch window in Philadelphia.

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December 31, 2013: Amusing the Zillion’s Coney Island 2013 Year in Review

September 11, 2013: Subway Cafe to Replace Furniture Store on Coney Island’s Surf Ave

February 13, 2013: Thor’s Coney Island: Candy Retailer It’Sugar to Open Surf Ave Store

January 28, 2012: Lost Delights of Coney Island: Frozen Custard

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