It was a proud moment for Durrow woman Catherine Wilson when she unlocked the doors to welcome first customers to the new Eddie Rockets restaurant in Portlaoise.
“I am so proud to open up in Laois. I have a branch in Kilkenny and I live there, and we have the Carlow diner as well but this is a great achievement for us all to have one in Laois,” she told the Leinster Express soon after 2pm last Tuesday, January 24.
The franchise owner expects to be busy in Portlaoise.
“I fully believe in Eddie Rockets and I think it will do well in Portlaoise, it will be a nice venue for parties, for sit down. My feeling is hopefully it do very good.
She deliberately chose a weekday afternoon.
“It’s a soft opening, that’s good for us all, if there are any issues we can get them sorted early rather than being very busy opening up on a weekend,” the manager explained.
The restaurant has created 24 local jobs.
“We have employed ten full timers and a total of 24 staff, the rest part timers coming in working 20 to 24 hours a week, all local girls, and two or three males as well on our floor, a really nice team,” she said.
The restaurant will be competing with many more but she is sure they will cope.
“Our customers get the full experience of a sit down restaurant, our staff are very well trained, it’s all about happiness, the fun aspect with the music, and our very good food that is cooked fresh to order, there’s the difference. You’re paying a tiny bit more for the table service and the whole dining experience of Eddie Rockets,” Ms Wilson said.
The new branch had dozens of customers waiting for the chrome and glass doors to be unlocked, and first in the queue was Portlaoise man Paul Byrne, with his son Ryan.
“I was especially here to be first in the queue. Their hot dogs just can’t be beaten anywhere else. It will be my favourite place without a doubt,” he said.
Amy Quinn, a third level student at Portlaoise College from Ballybrittas, would have previously visited the Carlow diner.
“This is too easy to get to, I’m going be out of college every day down here for my lunch,” she said.
Her favourite on the menu is the bacon and cheese fries.
“You can taste the calories,” she said laughing.
Among the first customers was Abbie Townsend, a pupil at Our Lady’s Meadow NS in Durrow. She was thrilled that she was in Portlaoise for a dental checkup at the time of the opening, and convinced her mam Teresa to join the queue.
“I’m looking forward to eating chicken tenders and a chocolate milkshake, I can’t wait,” she said.
“It’s very good timing. It’s very very close, it was harder when it was in Kilkenny and Carlow to get to. The food is just gorgeous, I think it’ll do well,” said her mother.
Manager of Laois Shopping Centre Kevin Doyle was there to welcome the new restaurant.
“We’re delighted to have Eddie Rockets here as part of Laois Shopping Centre but also as part of Portlaoise town, and the county. I think it’s going to be a great draw to bring people from outside back into our town. When you’re out shopping, it’s a treat, it will keep people shopping in the town. From today, you can see it’s very popular and I wish them the best of luck and hope they do well,” he said.
The restaurant seats 95 inside, with an outdoor decking area to be complete in the next fortnight, bringing seat numbers to 130.