First Date at Rita’s Italian Ice: Happiness Truly Never Tasted So Good

My first experience at Rita’s Italian Ice was nearly seven years ago to date (gosh that makes me feel old!) I was a 22 year-old missionary serving a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Baltimore Maryland Mission. The Rita’s was in Bel Air, Maryland, and we often met up with two other Elder’s to have a Rita’s Gelati for lunch. Maryland is miserable in the summer, all heat and humidity, and it was made ten times worse when you had to wear nylons, long skirts, and button down blouses. Going to Rita’s was one of the few ways we could cool off and relax. My companion at the time and one of the Elder’s are now married with a daughter, so I joke that Rita’s was their real first date.

Going out to eat is a staple when going on a date. Note: Movies are the worst first date idea ever – don’t do it. You should be trying to get to know the person through conversation, and I want to smack people who talk through movies. Rita’s treat’s come in a cup with spoons or straws, so if you’re hoping to flirt with your date by licking an ice cream cone, then you may want to go elsewhere – though you won’t find iced goodness and custard that tastes this good anywhere else. But for missionaries, who aren’t allowed to even be alone in the same room with the opposite sex, it was perfect. Us missionaries probably made Rita’s more money than any other group  to date. If you look at the picture below, the like’s comments are all from missionaries I served with or Church members in the Maryland area.

After completing my mission, I went home and finished my education at Brigham Young University then moved to Las Vegas, NV to begin my teaching career. It wasn’t until I went hot tubbing Saturday night at a friend’s house a few nights ago when I got some of the best news of my young adult life: There was a new Rita’s in Las Vegas! Rita’s slogan of “The World Needs More Rita’s” was true, and now the world had just gotten a little better with placement of one literally five minutes from my house.

“What time is it?!” I cried out. My excitement was quickly deflated when I was told 11:30 pm, and my friend told me they closed at 10 pm. This was one of the few times as a faithful member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that I wanted to break one of the ten commandments: Keep the Sabbath day holy. We believe that Sunday is a day of rest, and that rest means not working. Of course, if you have a job that requires you to work on Sunday, you’re not going to be burned at the stake, but we’re encouraged to avoid it if possible. We also try and not buy anything on Sunday, unless you really need it, like gas to get home from a trip or something. If no one went out on Sunday and bought things, then no businesses would be open and no one would have to work. They could just rest and spend quality time with their families at home. That’s the ideal world I’d like to live in, so I do my best to keep that commandment. After much debate, weighing guilt, and questioning whether I really needed it or just wanted it, I checked myself and decided to wait til Monday at noon when they opened again. But I had to at least behold it with my own eyes; see it to believe it.

So off my roommate (who served in the same mission as me in Maryland) and I went to find the blessed place. I’ve only lived in Vegas for about a year so it took me awhile to actually find the place. When I saw it, I literally freaked out, and my roommate got it all on video (if your’e friends with me on Facebook, you’ve seen the craziness). I literally plastered myself against the glass door and kept repeating, “Rita’s!” in complete joy. My roommate pointed to a screen inside and there we were on the security camera. A few moments later, a security guard pulled up. We dove back into the car and sped off before any questions could be asked. I highly anticipate the video appearing on YouTube titled “Deranged Rita’s Fan”, but I have no shame people.

The next 32 hours went by excruciatingly slow. Working and writing was taxing, and when I was finally able to get away at 1:00 on Monday, I could hardly prevent myself from dancing in the driver’s seat. I pulled up in front of Rita’s and froze, realizing that this was the exact same spot I had parked when the security camera had got us on film. I quickly put on my sunglasses and looked inside to see four teenage workers laughing. I immediately became paranoid. Had they seen the film?! No matter. I would have Rita’s, shame or no shame. I mentally put on my Reviewer’s hat and walked in.

“Hi!” “Welcome to Rita’s!” was the warm welcoming I got from all four of the workers. I was impressed to see them alert and attentive instead of texting on their phones like I’ve seen at so many other businesses. The place was immaculate. They offered me a sample of any flavor and answered any questions I asked in a professional and enthusiastic manner. I was thrilled to see my favorite flavor, Mango, and ordered a Mango Gelati with twisted custard. My top three favorites are Mango, Mint Chocolate Chip, and Black Cherry, but I am dying to try their new Sweedish Fish Flavor! I noticed they had a calorie chart, digitized menu’s on flat screen tv’s up on the wall, and business cards and fliers. I was especially impressed with this flier; I have a hard time making decisions and found this extremely helpful.

I was pleased to see that I didn’t get jipped on the custard. If you look at the photo above, you can see how nice it looked. Great presentation. I walked out with a goodbye from all the workers and a napkin-wrapped cup of Italian iced goodness. I drove around the corner, snapped a picture to make all my friends jealous, then took a bite. I had taken a card and flier from the shop to use for this review, and the thought that came into my mind as my taste buds leapt in joy was as follows:

I thought the day couldn’t get any better. Then I saw this on my drive home:

A Rita’s van. Catering to a business a block from my house. I felt like seeing the van was a testament to my decision to write this review. I went home and created a Facebook event, inviting all of my friends to go and try Rita’s. It also gave opportunity for any guy wanting to ask a girl out on a date to take go with her. (I didn’t get asked. Not that I expected too, but there were no hustler’s taking advantage of the opportunity either. See my blog post entitled “Dating Disasters..” for how I feel about that.)

The following review categories, comments, and ratings are scored based on my experience and those who went to the event:

Customer Service: 10. While I was there, the owner of the place went outside and handed out business cards and spent time talking to a family of four who was sitting outside on the tailgate of their truck enjoying their sweet treat. He seemed geniuinely interested in them as part of the community. How often do you see that?!

Environment: 7. This is the lowest score only because of how small the place is and the lack of seating indoors or outdoors. This can be a bummer when it’s  100 degrees outside like it was last night when I went for the review. There is one bench that can seat two, but the place is pretty busy! My hope is that the business will do so well they can afford a bigger place with tables and seats. Typically, Rita’s around the U.S. are usually just outdoor huts/shacks, so Rita’s in Henderson is actually cooler temperature wise than most. It was also unclear where the start of the line was to order and where to pay, and when you get fifteen people jam packed into that small place, it can get confusing. Again, the space contributes to this problem.

Ambiance: 10. Extremely friendly and attentive workers. They kept a smile on their faces and made you feel welcome.

Presentation: The workers were sure to make the products look appealing and clean

Overall Star Rating: 4.5/5

Price Range: $3-$6 individual item
Good for Kids: Yes
Delivery/Catering: Yes
Outdoor Seating: No
Wheelchair Accessible: Yes
Have you ever been to Rita’s? If so, what was your experience? If you haven’t been but want more information, check out Rita’s Green Valley on Facebook, or on twitter: ritasgreenvalle or Rita’sItalianIce. Grab a hottie or someone you love and go check it out!
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