By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Jan 27, 2023 at 10:25 AM

Kitt’s Frozen Custard, 7000 W. Capitol Dr., has a second new operator since longtime owner Ray “Butch” Rydz sold the stand in 2019.

Ahmad took over in June and his sister Jasmine spent months working on Kitt’s before it reopened at the start of this year.

“Had to get the store renovated and updated to state and health department requirements,” Jasmine Atrash said in an email.

“A lot of work needed to be done. (We) couldn’t operate properly until we fixed all the electrical wiring, water pipes, sewage, tearing down walls, making it more spacious. (We) put in new equipment.”

According to city records, Ahmad Properties of Palos Park, Illinois, bought the property early last year for $630,000, from Kitt’s Custard LLC.

Kitt's Frozen Custard
Mini golf at Kitt's in 1962. (PHOTO: Ronald Lee Schwigel/Facebook)

A week ago, the first post in two and a half years on the Kitt’s Facebook page said, “We're back open and under new ownership. Sorry for the wait.”

The restaurant also posted images of a new menu with burgers, chicken sandwiches and tenders, hot dogs, fries, a fish sandwich, Philly cheese steak and other similar items.

A dessert menu includes cones, sundaes and shakes and malts.

“We made (the menu) smaller until we rebuild our clients back,” Atrash said. “I am not trying to overwhelm the restaurant after all it’s been going through for a couple years now.”

“Currently (we) don’t have any other restaurants,” she said. “But hopefully in the future can expand Kitt’s around Milwaukee. Just trying to get Kitt’s’ reputation back to where it used to be.”

Rydz sold Kitt’s to Deb Lewis of Positive Properties in August 2020 for $699,500, according to his realtor and niece, Missy Buttrum.

Rydz, seeking to retire, listed the business for sale in October 2019, asking $899,900. Buttrum said at the time, "It is including all the equipment and memorabilia, and the 'Kitt's' name."

According to Buttrum, Rydz is doing well and hoping to relocate to Florida in the next year or so.

Rydz had closed Kitt’s for a few weeks in early 2019, but it reopened.

Harry Kittredge – a former service station operator – and his son John opened Kitt’s Frozen Custard in 1952, its neon sign illuminating a neighborhood landscape that was still largely unbuilt.

Eugene Kittredge at Kitt's. (PHOTO: Holly Strahlendorf/Facebook)

A building permit shows that like many Milwaukee custard stands, this one was opened with the assistance of Leon's owner Leon Schneider.

John ran the business himself beginning around 1960, and in 1979, his son Eugene took over the stand, which was beloved for its barbecue sandwiches and chili dogs (both of which are still on the menu) and other food, too.

In 2000, the Kittredge family sold out to Rydz, for $150,000.

A 1959 sign permit. (PHOTO: City of Milwaukee)

Atrash said Kitt’s’ long history was part of the allure of the vintage custard stand.

“What attracted me to Kitt’s was it’s been in business for 75 years, bringing people joy and wanted to part of people’s happiness,” she said.

“We are a small family owned business. We’re in the business of service and enjoying being in the community.”

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He has be heard on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories, in that station's most popular podcast.