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Linda Chadwick recently took advantage of the rare opportunity to go undercover as a Rita’s Italian Ice & Frozen Custard frontline employee for the CBS series “Undercover Boss.” Chadwick took the lessons from that undercover stint and applied them in her role as president and CEO of Rita’s Franchise Company.

“Some key priorities for Chadwick coming out of the undercover experience include developing a diversity and inclusion program and improving how franchisees are supported by the brand’s franchise consultants by updating its brand standards, communications and procedures — all geared toward improving unit economics for their franchisees,” the company said.

Rita’s Italian Ice & Frozen Custard opened its doors in Bensalem, Pennsylvania, in 1984 and has been dedicated to spreading “Ice, Custard, Happiness” ever since. Today, Rita’s has grown into the largest Italian ice chain in the world, with approximately 550 shops.

As a teenager, Chadwick began a 25-year career with Burger King Corporation, where she started out making burgers and running the drive-thru window before climbing the corporate ladder. As a single mom juggling two kids and a growing career, she learned the importance of hard work and perseverance. Chadwick held various positions at Burger King Corporation over the years before ultimately becoming vice president of franchise operations.

In 2013, Chadwick shifted to the beauty industry and became the CEO of Fantastic Sams. Her interest in the restaurant industry brought her back in 2017 when she became the president and CEO of Rita’s Franchise Company, LLC.

She led the 40-year-old brand through the two-year pandemic, and the business set record numbers. The company has shown year-over-year growth since Chadwick arrived five years ago.

In the next five years, Chadwick aims to add 250 more Rita’s locations, expand drive-thrus and test out nontraditional venues and mobile operations. Chadwick has a digital-first strategy, investing in new digital tools and resources to help the company find efficiencies and help drive sales. Rita’s new consumer mobile app launched last fall, and the company will beta test mobile ordering this year.

“Chadwick always has a focus on identifying new revenue and brand awareness generators for Rita’s, but it’s too early to give away any of the secrets that she has in the works,” her team said.

Chadwick was named in Franchise Dictionary’s Women of Wonder 2019 issue, which allows peers to nominate and recognize women who inspire and go above and beyond their business expectations.

“I learned early on that I couldn’t do everything by myself,” Chadwick said. “I had to count on other people. When it comes to business, this holds true too. You need a strong team behind you that can help make visions and goals come to life. It’s all about teamwork.”


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