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Rita's offers free italian ice on Monday, March 20
Franchise debuts in Ceres at Hatch & Mitchell
Rita's opened at 1515 Mitchell Road, Suite 6, Ceres on Wednesday. - photo by JEFF BENZIGER/Courier photo

Members of the Ceres Chamber of Commerce were among the first to welcome Rita's Italian Ice to Ceres during its grand opening on Wednesday.

The store, which opened at the corner of Hatch and Mitchell roads near Round Table Pizza, is the 20th Rita's to open in Northern California. The first in Stanislaus County is the one on McHenry Avenue in Modesto. The Ceres store is the third for franchisee Nicholas Schutte.

On Monday, March 20, the Ceres Rita's, along with every Rita's in the country will celebrate the first day of spring by giving away free Italian ice all day.

"This is an annual event that we all train and look forward to," said Shutte. "We have all hands on deck and expect the line of people to be non-stop out the door, all day long, especially when kids get out of school."

The Ceres location opened its doors with brand-new menu items that are not quite available at every location. They include Premium Hand Crafted Frozen Custard made fresh in the store and available in over 25 unique flavors; Fresh Baked Custard Cookie sandwiches, made with fresh baked cookies and hand-crafted frozen custard; and the newest flavors of over 65 flavors of their world famous Italian Ice that's also made fresh daily, Peeps, Twizzlers, and Hawaiian Punch.

With more than 30 years in business, Rita's Italian Ice has been aggressively expanding across Northern California and the United States and internationally, with locations now open in Canada, the Philippines, Middle East and Caribbean.