The private equity firm did not disclose how much it paid for the stake from an investment group led by Jim Rudolph, who kept a minority position in the company, which is based in Trevose near Philadelphia.
Falconhead Capital operating partner Thomas Christopoul was named chairman and interim chief executive of Rita's until a new CEO is named.
David S. Moross, chairman and CEO of Falconhead Capital, said Rita's was ripe for likely expansion in the aftermath of the acquisition. Rita's currently operates mostly in the eastern U.S.
"We are planning to accelerate our unit expansion both in our core domestic markets as well as seeking to expand internationally," he said in an email to The Associated Press. "We expect to look at adjacent year-round markets to the U.S. such as Puerto Rico, the Caribbean and Mexico as well as seeking to partner with experienced restaurant operators in the Far East - with a focus particularly in China and Micronesia."
Rita's was founded in 1984 by Bob Tumolo, a former Philadelphia firefighter. Tumolo, along with his mother and brother, made and sold Italian ice from their porch window. Since then, Rita's has grown to 550 franchises.