By Betty Gagne
Seacoast Scene, Wednesday, May 11, 2005
'Celebrating People & Events Since 1975'[The following article is courtesy of Seacoast Scene.]
Neil Scibelli says there's an art to cooking a perfect hamburger. The young entrepreneur, who recently re-opened Fast Eddie's diner with fellow business partner Bill Clark, claims that even though he's been using the same quality ground beef fur six years, each grill is different and effects how the meat reacts. "Most grills have a hot spot," he says. "You just have to find out where it is."
It's not just knowing how to make an exceptional hamburger that separates a good diner from a great one - and these two guys, with their combined years of experience, have opened what they hope will become the next popular seacoast eatery.
Fast Eddie's, which opened some time ago, was originally owned and operated by members of the Rush family. "Eddie was Kathy (Prudential Rush Realty) Rush's husband, who passed away," Neil tells us. Although Neil and Bill took over the business in February of this year, they decided to keep the name Fast Eddie's "out of respect for Kathy," Neil says. They both admit that they liked the name, too.
So how did these two guys end up owning Fast Eddie's? Neil explains: "Bill and I were both chefs at the Wentworth By the Sea Country Club, and the previous owner's were members there."
Kathy would sometimes consult the guys on matters concerning Fast Eddie's. Tapping into the two chefs' expertise was the first phase of the transition, which led to the sale of the restaurant to Neil and Bill. Now, the guys are proud of their move, have a great new menu, and have retained the fun 50's atmosphere of the restaurant. "Kathy remains very supportive of us," Neil says.
Similar to a diner, the eatery offers steel-padded stools at the breakfast bar, and red vinyl chairs and booths in the dining room. A black and white checkered tile floor stirs up memories of yesteryear, as does the oldies music that's piped into the background.
The menu is the only thing that's completely changed. "It's our own menu," Bill says, "and most everything we offer is homemade." That includes items like soups, salad dressings, and desserts. Bill especially enjoys experimenting with desserts, and uses a favorite cookbook entitled "Diner Desserts" by Tish Boyle. "He makes a really mean chocolate-peanut butter pie," Neil says about his partner. Both men say they'd like to put more effort into creating desserts, but right now the restaurant consumes most of their time.
Comfort food, like Southern Chicken Fried Steak, and Meatloaf, are homemade specialties that are quickly becoming top sellers from the menu. And the melts ... well, they're in a class all their own. Both men agree that it's the bread they use for these sandwiches that makes the difference. "We use a ciabatta bread," explains Bill. Some readers may remember Bill when he owned a Cuban sandwich shop on Winnacunnet Road in Hampton, which is where he polished his creative sandwich-building skills. "Ciabatta is an old-world, rustic, sourdough bread that we get from a bakery in Woburn, Mass.," Bill tells us about the bread they use. The company specializes in European breads, and the ciabatta-loaf gives the melts a completely different look and taste. For a sample of a really unique sandwich, you'll want to try the Cubano Melt: a hearty serving (enough for 2) of ham and sliced pork, layered with pickles, and melted with Swiss cheese - all piled between 2 thick slices of grilled ciabatta bread that's been spread with country mustard. Sandwiches are served with your choice of a side order. A slab of ciabatta bread is served alongside each serving of homemade soup, also. Choose from favorites like French Onion, chili, and beef stew, or try their chicken corn chowder. Their menu offers a different soup selection each day in addition to the regular list.
If you're a breakfast person, the offerings at Fast Eddie's are generous, and the prices are surprisingly low. For a twist, try the Miss Meghan: an over-easy egg served on cinnamon raisin toast with a side of granny smith apple slices spread with crunchy peanut butter. "Meghan is my fiance" Neil explained. "That dish was the first meal she ever made for me." Now, there's a guy who knows how to reach his lady's heart!
In a hurry? Try a "Fast Eddie:" bacon, egg and cheese on a bagel, with a fresh cup of coffee to go - all for $3.50! "We feature Piscataqua Coffee," Neil tells us. "We're attempting to do business with all local companies." That means everything on Fast Eddie's menu is fresh - including the New England seafood selections.Diane Bird and Joe Morse, sister and brother team from Hampton, enjoyed their meal at Fast Eddie's recently. Diane says her family has been in the restaurant business forever. She liked the food at Fast Eddie's and said she'll definitely return.
Neil has an AAS in Culinary Arts from Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island. Bill attended UNH and studied exercise science. He cooked his way through college, working in a number of different seacoast restaurants, until finally realizing that his heart was truly in the kitchen, and not in the health field.
Neil and Bill invite you to try out their restaurant and are open to customers' ideas and suggestions. "We're a diner," says Neil. "We're super proud of what we do here. We've put a lot of classic techniques into doing simple food."
Fast Eddie's is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner; they're located at 320 Lafayette Road in Hampton and their telephone number is 926-2314. Check it out!So how did these two guys end up owning Fast Eddie's? Neil explains: "Bill and I were both chefs at the Wentworth By the Sea Country Club, and the previous owner's were members there." The menu is the only thing that's completely changed. "It's our own menu," Bill says, "and most everything we offer is homemade."