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Posts Tagged ‘Rita’s of Coney Island’

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

Related posts on ATZ…

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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