Late-night and even 24-hour dining is just part of city life these days. But when Fast Eddy’s opened in Perth in 1978, it pioneered a new level of convenience for night owls. It was Perth’s first 24-hour dining destination, offering restaurant-style food around the clock.
It wasn’t the first restaurant in Australia to offer 24-hour dining. It may well be that undocumented cookhouses and cafes were offering round-the-clock service from early colonial times. And in 1952, “Simple Simon” wrote in the Shepparton Advertiser:
Called in the other night for a bit and sup (steak and egg par excellence) in the only 24 hour-a-day restaurant between Jerilderie and Seymour, on the Shepparton road about 17 miles from the city. You might know it, at Moorilim, near Murchison. Mrs. Coleman and daughter Normal run it in shifts, night and day. It never closes except for an hour or so of a Saturday…It’s a quaint place of 12 rooms, in early Victorian style, and if you sit there all night they’ll still keep filling your cup with their hospitable tea and Norma will sing delightfully for you.
Wrest Point Casino opened in Hobart, Tasmania, in 1973 and included a 24-hour grill room and, by the 1970s, some roadhouses offered 24-hour restaurant service. In the Australian Capital Territory, a change of the liquor laws in 1975 permitted 24-hour trading for hotels and restaurants. It seems few took up the challenge, with the possible exception of an “amusement and refreshment hall” in the suburb of Phillip, which offered “jazz up to 24 hours a day”. In 1976, a Fast Eddy’s bar opened in a Hobart hotel. Open from 3 am to 7 am, it served late-night snacks and breakfasts but was not a 24-hour operation.
Perth’s Fast Eddy’s, however, made a big deal of its 24/7 service. The restaurant was opened by brothers Christopher and Con Somas, who based it on American 24-hour diners such as Denny’s. (Denny’s itself made a brief appearance in Australia in the early 1980s under Ansett ownership.) The restaurants, offering “Food for all tastes, at all times”, had a diverse menu. Famous for burgers, hot dogs and milkshakes, they also did breakfasts, pasta, seafood and grills.
In 1996, Fast Eddy’s was sold to Ernie and Mark Galloway who embarked on an expansion program, at first in Western Australia and then to the eastern states. It proved to be an over-reach. By that time, many McDonald’s outlets were operating 24 hours a day. Other restaurants, including Melbourne’s famous Stalactites in Lonsdale Street, were also offering all-night service. By 2002, the company was in receivership. The interstate restaurants closed down and some in Western Australia were franchised.
In central Perth, Fast Eddy’s carried on but, by 2017, the overnight custom had shrunk and the restaurant was forced to move away from 24-hour dining, instead opening “until late”. The diner closed for good in 2019 when the property was sold to a Chinese developer.