The long-awaited combination PJ’s Coffee and Rita’s Italian Ice is finally set to open next month in the building that formerly housed the Expeditions store at the corner of University Boulevard and Campus Way.

Bill Getchell, a former wide receiver for the Alabama Crimson Tide and a native New Yorker, said he recognized the need for an Italian ice shop when he was a student at the University of Alabama and thought now was the perfect time to fill that void.

“I grew up in Queens, New York, where there’s Italian Ice on almost every corner,"Getchell said. "Every Friday our treat was to get two slices of pizza and Italian ice, and I just thought that experience would be good down here."

When Getchell purchased rights to a Rita’s Italian Ice franchise in 2018, he knew the Strip was the best location to cater to his target audience of college students, but couldn’t find an available storefront. When Expeditions closed its doors for good last summer, Getchell saw his chance and jumped.

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The original plan was to open up a standalone Rita’s, but the available location was twice the size necessary to run the store. In another savvy move, Getchell decided to bring in PJ’s Coffee, a New Orleans favorite, and fill the extra space and make his place the only coffee shop located on the Strip.

Getchell is looking to hire two full staffs comprised entirely of students and break into the market with a bang and provide Tuscaloosa with a cozy place to sip on cold-brew, get caught up on work and enjoy Getchell’s favorite childhood treat with friends.

Look for the combination store to have a soft opening at the end of February and officially open for business on March 1st.

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