Rita's Water Ice Arrives in Delray; Philly Fans Rejoice

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Rita's Water Ice is a Philadelphia landmark, selling a product that rivals the cheesesteak in its addictive qualities.The ingredients sound simple enough--ice, fresh fruit, sugar--but this is not your average snow cone. I've seen Philly natives travel miles to get their fix, craving the slushy, refreshing goodness the way normal people crave raw cookie dough.

South Florida is already blessed with several Rita's locations, in Boca, Boynton Beach, Lake Worth, and Pembroke Pines. But the arrival of a new store in Delray's Pineapple Grove was especially sweet because, well, it's really close to my house.

I've been salivating for weeks, watching the "Now Hiring" sign appear in the window, along with the familiar cartoonish pictures of custards and Italian ices. But the door has remained firmly locked.

I called Rita's corporate headquarters in Pennsylvania, where I learned that the Delray store was supposed to open last week. But "they're kinda up in the air right now," said Marty Buckley, the unlucky marketing intern who answered my inquiry.

"They're going to open, it's just a matter of when," he said, and was unable to offer any further explanation.

There's still no phone number listed for the new store, but when I drove by this morning, the signs of life were encouraging. The red, white, and blue-checkered floor was polished, the old-fashioned wooden benches were in place, and there was even a "store hours" sign posted on the door. Unfortunately, the sign was blank.

Which means, water ice fans, we'll just have to be patient.

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