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Free Italian Ices at the New Rita's in Redondo Beach

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In the ongoing battle of East Coast eats versus West Coast eats, the Atlantic side has long chalked up points for being home to the beloved Rita's, an Italian ice and custard chain that began in greater Philadelphia in 1984. Now the score is evening out, because the first California outpost of Rita's soft opens Monday, April 8 in Redondo Beach, and owners Jake Cosme and Josh Pascua hope you'll stop in to check out their news digs and slurp an Italian Ice on the house.

Josh and Jake chatted with LAist in the middle of a recent and bustling friends, family and media night.

LAist: Tell us a little about how this all got started.

Jake: We grew up in Rancho Cucamonga, and we've known each other since junior high school. We were on the wrestling team together. I went to school out in Maryland at the United States Naval Academy (Jake), and Josh enlisted in the Marines and did several tours in Iraq, and when I graduated from college I did a couple tours in Iraq.

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Josh: We've always wanted to do a business together, and that plan eventually evolved into wanting to open a vet-friendly franchise. We looked at different businesses, like Wing Stop and some others, but when we saw that Rita's gives discounts to veteran franchisees, we jumped on it. And everything's been working out. Spread the word: free Italian Ices all day Monday, April 8 and Tuesday, April 9!

How'd you decide to open in Redondo Beach?

Josh: It's where we wanted to surf! We live right here, too, and we wanted to be a part of the community. The South Bay is really welcoming, and just has that small town, family feel that we really craved.

Besides the signature Italian Ices, what menu items do you snack on yourselves?

Jake: The gelatis are awesome, and we're also really liking our pretzels [from Prospect Pretzels]. If you dip them in our custards, the taste is amazing. That's a little specialty item at the Redondo Beach franchise.

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Josh: The mango gelati, which is vanilla custard on top of mango ice. That's to die for.

Fans are encouraged to drop in and snag a free Italian Ice on Monday, April 8 or Tuesday, April 9 -- or go crazy and visit both days. The gratis goods will be given out from 11am to 10pm, and all other menu items will be available for purchase.

Rita's, 403 North Pacific Coast Hwy., Suite 101, in Redondo Beach. 424-247-7511