You won’t find a place much “cooler” than this.
Rita’s Italian Ice, located at 1082 W. Lee Drive, opened on Oct. 15. The Baton Rouge location is the first Rita’s to open in the state of Louisiana.
Rita’s specialty is, you guessed it, Italian Ice — the Northern equivalent of the Southern snowball. Among its most popular Italian Ice flavors are mango, birthday cake and cotton candy. Rita’s also offers hand-scooped and soft serve custard as well as a variety of treats including frozen custard, milkshakes, cookie sandwiches and fresh, homemade waffle cones and bowls.
The shop also features Gelati, Mistos, Blendinis, which are varying combinations of Italian ice and frozen custard, either layered or mixed and sometimes with candy pieces.
Rita’s will celebrate its grand opening from Nov. 15 to Nov. 18. The shop will have special deals like $2 Gelati, $1 Italian Ice and a very special deal for the first 50 people in line on Nov. 17.
Owner Maria Finley is a 2001 alumna of LSU law school. Finley was inspired to open a Rita’s of her own after a visit to Washington, D.C. to tour Georgetown University for her Master of Law. After one bite, she was inspired to return to Baton Rouge and open up a Rita’s Italian Ice for Louisianians to enjoy.
“I tasted it and it stopped me in my tracks,” Finley said. “I was like ‘This is so good. What is this, and why don’t we have it in Louisiana?’”
Finley said she loves to see people taste Rita’s for the first time and see them have a “wow moment” like she did. She said it’s rewarding to share her experience with so many people.
“I could bring something to Louisiana — Baton Rouge especially — that just tastes great and makes you smile and brings people together,” Finley said.
Finley said the most rewarding part of her job is that she gets to share it with her family. Both of her sons as well as other family members are all actively involved in Rita’s.
“I always wanted to do something that I could involve my family, and that has happened,” Finley said. “They’re all involved in some way.”
The manager of Rita’s, Tatyana Davis, said she had dreams of being an ice cream seller since she was 5 years old. She feels at home doing something she has been so passionate about for so many years, she said.
“I’m from Chicago,” Davis said. “I grew up on Italian ice, so I was really familiar with it already so learning how to actually make it was pretty cool.”
Both Finley and Davis have high hopes for the atmosphere and future of the business. They want it to be a relaxing, stress-free zone where anyone can come, sit down and have a delicious treat.
“We’re hoping for a really upbeat, positive vibe,” Davis said. “A warm greeting when you come in. We want to be a safe, fun place for people to just come hang out. Bring your friends, bring your family, just come hang out and chill.”