Louisiana’s first Rita’s Italian Ice franchise to open in Baton Rouge

    Construction is underway and equipment has been ordered for an Italian ice and custard treat shop slated to open later this month on Lee Drive, across the street from Mike Anderson’s Seafood Restaurant.
    Rita’s Italian Ice will be in the same building as Jimmy John’s and will be the first Louisiana location for the Pennsylvania-based company.
    The treat shop will feature up to a dozen flavors of Italian ice and hand scooped frozen custard, chocolate and vanilla soft serve frozen custard, fresh waffle cones, chocolate chip cookie custard sandwiches and pretzels.
    The business will employ 10 people and have about 16 seats inside, as well as patio seating.
    Franchise owner and Baton Rouge attorney Maria Finley says she had been looking to move out of Louisiana to attend graduate school. But that plan came to a screeching halt after she tried Rita’s while visiting Washington, DC.
    “I tasted it and was just like ‘Oh my gosh, what is this and why don’t we have this in Louisiana?’ It was that good,” says Finley, who took her house off the market and has been working to bring Rita’s to Louisiana for the past two and half years.
    The Lee Drive location wasn’t initially her preferred spot, but after giving it some thought she says there couldn’t be a better location for her restaurant.
    “It’s right around the corner from LSU, near icons and restaurants. There’s history here,” says Finley.
    The franchise is the latest restaurant with plans to open in the area. Whataburger purchased property down the street, near the Lee and Burbank drives intersection, in June, and Atomic Burger, Dat Dog and Sombrero’s are in the works.
    Finley also has plans to expand. She says she wants to expand into the New Orleans market next and then will return to “fill out” Baton Rouge. She’s also planning to open a mobile unit of Rita’s, similar to a food truck, which she estimates will be available for festivals starting October.
    Grey Hammett III with NAI/Latter & Blum brokered the deal.

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