It was a case of back to the future for Laura Clark when she landed the top job at a busy restaurant in a Wrexham shopping centre.
That’s because 33-year-old Laura was part of the original staff team that launched Frankie & Benny’s at Eagles Meadow when the centre first opened for business back in 2008 and has since enjoyed a number of stints back working there.
Now at the helm of the popular eatery, she said: “I was deputy to the restaurant’s original manager Peter Cross when it first opened along with the rest of Eagles Meadow nine years ago and although I’ve been back a few times in various roles since then it’s fantastic to at last become manager myself. It’s like a homecoming.”
Originally from Wrexham where she still lives, Laura studied for a business degree at Leeds University and went straight into the catering industry.
She recalled: “I had a number of jobs as a waitress at various well-known restaurants in and around the Wrexham area, including the Grosvenor in Pulford and the Trevor Arms at Marford, which were both near where I lived at the time in Rossett.
“As part of my university course I did a year’s work placement at the big Carden Park complex just over the border in Cheshire and spent some time gaining experience in every department until they eventually gave me a permanent job as manager of the golf clubhouse. I was in charge of organising weddings and other functions and enjoyed it very much.
“I was at Carden Park for five years up until 2008 when I joined Frankie & Benny’s and Peter and I opened the restaurant at the then new Eagles Meadow shopping centre.
“After that I transferred over to the Frankie & Benny’s branch at Plas Coch shopping centre in Wrexham and over the next few years I was back and forth between there and Eagles Meadow as a deputy manager.
“Peter stayed at Eagles Meadow until recently when he left to run the Frankie & Benny’s in Chester and I was appointed manager.”
In her high-profile new job Laura heads up a team of 18 full and part-time staff and says she is relishing the new challenge it presents.
“This restaurant and Eagles Meadow in general feel very familiar to me as I’ve been based here so often since 2008. I also know quite a few of the people who work at other shops and restaurants in the centre,” she said.
“I’ve got a brilliant team of staff working with me and many of our customers have become familiar faces.
“This branch is well-known for all the support it gives to various charities. Over the years the staff here must have raised quite a few thousand pounds for all sorts of causes and I definitely intend to keep up that tradition now I’m manager.
“In fact, we’re working on a special themed fundraiser for the next bank holiday weekend in August, details of which we’ll be letting our customers know about soon.”
Eagles Meadow manager Kevin Critchley said: “It’s great to welcome Laura back to the shopping centre – I’m sure she’ll feel very much at home.”