Rita’s Italian Ice has named Michael Lorelli as its new executive chairman of the board and interim chief executive.

In his new role, Lorelli will be responsible for spearheading the search for a new permanent president and chief executive at Rita’s, the company said in a statement. Rita’s former president and chief executive Jonathan Fornaci stepped down a few months ago to pursue other opportunities.

Lorelli replaces Tom Christopoul as chairman. Christopoul left Rita’s a few months ago, the company said.

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Lorelli, who is an operating partner of private-equity firm Falconhead Capital, officially stepped into the chairman and interim chief executive roles a few weeks ago. Falcolnhead Capital purchased Rita’s in 2011.

“There is a powerful opportunity to expand the very loyal Rita’s customer base both within the existing geography, as well as in new U.S. and international markets,” Lorelli said in a statement. “Rita’s opened its first three California outlets in June, and expansion efforts are underway in other western states and international markets. The first units in China are slated for fall openings.”

Lorelli has also worked for PepsiCo, where he served as chief executive officer at Pizza Hut’s international division, and as president of Pepsi-Cola East. He has also served as chief executive of four private equity companies, according to a company statement.

Most recently, Lorelli served as chief executive of WaterJel Technologies, a company that sells products such as fire blankets and first aid products for burn victims.

Trevose, Penn.-based Rita’s Italian Ice has more than 600 locations in 20 states.

Contact Erin Dostal at erin.dostal@penton.com.
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