"Nobody can touch us on comfort food, it's the best on the Seacoast."
By Diane Ficarra
Seacoast Scene, Wednesday, August 22, 2007
[The following article is courtesy of Seacoast Scene.]
When I asked the owner of Fast Eddie's, Neil Scibelli what made him want to own a restaurant he told me he always wanted to be a chef ever since he was little. "As a little boy I remembered my mother's cooking. She was an Irish woman who was married at 20 and learned how to cook from her Italian mother-in-law. My mother was also a chef at Friendly's for 13 years." Neil himself began working at Friendly's as a teenager and his career has been moving forward ever since.
After graduating from high school Neil attended Johnson and Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island and received his Associates degree in Culinary Arts and Bachelors of Applied Science in Food Management. He then began working as a Sous Chef at the North Andover Country Club. What are the responsibilities of a Sous Chef I asked? Neil said "they do everything a regular chef does or doesn't want to do, and if things go wrong you get blamed for it and you're also responsible for opening the restaurant and closing up at night." He stayed there a few years and then moved on to Joseph's Trattoria in Bradford, MA. There he also started as a Sous Chef but was promoted to Location Chef after a year. Neil says although he didn't have the title of Executive Chef he had all the responsibilities that are typical of that title. He got to order the food, make the schedules, manage inventory and costs, and he had others working for him. He was there 3 years and loved it.
This experience made him ready for the next step in his career which was Executive Chef at the Wentworth by the Sea Country Club. After being an Executive Chef for 3 years Neil was promoted to Director of Food and Beverage while maintaining his responsibilities as Executive Chef. With these positions he had all the kitchen staff reporting to him, the dining room managers and staff and the beverage cocktail girls. "That's how I met my wife, Meghan" said Neil. "She was a beverage cocktail girl." They now have a new addition (and owner) their 2 year old son, Luke. Meghan works at Fast Eddie's on the weekends and their son Luke, well "he carries a broom and entertains everyone" Neil says.
It was while he was employed at the Wentworth by the Sea C. C. that he met Cathy Rush of Rush Realty who was the owner of Fast Eddie's at the time. They had discussions about the possibility of Neil buying the restaurant. One thing led to another and before they knew it they were working out a deal to purchase the place and by November 1, 2005 Neil and his family were the new owners of Fast Eddie's. He says "its been a lot.of work with many long hours but takes pride in knowing that someday it will all pay off." He says owning a diner was not necessarily something he planned on "but I was hungry to have my own place and hungry to make it work and its been a long road." He says "I remember when the waitresses could read the newspaper on Saturday and Sunday mornings, now business is great, there's a big, long line out the door. It took about 1 years before things began to move in the direction we wanted."
Before I had the chance to ask Neil what makes Fast Eddie's different from everyone else he happily offered to me that they do really simple, home cooked comfort food really well. He says "nobody can touch us on comfort food, it's the best on the seacoast." What does he recommend? He says they make a great burger, they're hand pressed everyday, their meatloaf is excellent along with their chicken pot pie and shepherds pie. Neil's favorites? Chicken parmesan and the steak tips which again, as he says, "they're the best on the seacoast!" They also make their own soups, salad dressings and tomato sauce and they serve wine and beer. You can also get a terrific Bloody Mary or Mimosa with your breakfast.
As far as his plans for the future? Eventually Neil sees himself moving to a more upscale restaurant where only dinner is served, with the best wine list, maybe closer to the ocean, something the opposite of Fast Eddie's. "Its all a matter of progression, moving on to something bigger" he says. He believes he now has a head start of being able to open some other restaurant. People know him in the area and he's developed a network now.
Fast Eddie's has a cozy 50's diner decor, you can hear the 50's music playing in the background and they have a friendly wait staff there to serve you. Why not join them sometime and give Neil's favorite steak tips a try? I think I just might.
Fast Eddie's is located at 320 Lafayette Rd (Rt. 1) in Hampton, NH. They're open Monday-Saturday 7am-9pm, Sundays 7am-8pm. Beginning September 3rd the Sunday hours will change to 7am-3pm. and you can check out their menu by visiting their website at www.fasteddieshamburgers.com.