Rita’s Italian Ice has opened its first international location, in Shenzhen, China.

The frozen-treat chain, with more than 600 restaurants in 21 states, will hold a grand opening celebration for the outlet on Nov. 8, with a buy-one-get-one offer for a regular Italian ice. The Chinese outpost is the first of 31 planned Rita’s locations in China over the next 10 years with Shenzhen XingHeFeng Trade Co., the brand’s master franchisor for southern China.

“Opening our first international Rita’s is a historic milestone,” chief executive Jeff Moody said in a statement. “We’re thrilled to now start spreading our unique brand of refreshing happiness to the billions of people around the world who could also use a little happiness, starting in Shenzhen. We’re confident the Chinese consumer will absolutely love Rita’s ices, custards, gelatis and more.”

Xu Xue Ling, chairman of Shenzhen XingHeFeng Trade Co., added: “We are very excited to introduce Rita’s famous ice and cool treats to China and be the first international outlet for the brand. Many have never tasted Rita’s Italian Ice, so we’re introducing a unique product and flavors and hope Rita’s will be everyone’s new favorite treat in China too.”

Consumers in China have three peak times for snacking like those in the United States do: between breakfast and lunch, between lunch and dinner, and late at night, according to an NPD Group study, “International Food and Beverage Habits in Brazil, Russia, India, Mexico & China.” The NPD Group’s report, published Wednesday, also found that Chinese consumers are more likely to obtain between-meal foods from restaurants than their counterparts in Brazil, Russia, India and Mexico.

Rita’s opening in Shenzhen is the first of several international restaurants in development this year. The company said it also has openings planned for India, Canada and the “ABC” islands of Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao.

Trevose, Pa.-based Rita’s Italian Ice was founded in 1984.

Contact Mark Brandau at mark.brandau@penton.com.
Follow him on Twitter: @Mark_from_NRN