By Rebecca Goodman
Enquirer staff writer
SPRINGFIELD TWP. - Ed Eilers, the first person to open a LaRosa's franchise, died Friday at the Home at Hearthstone nursing center in Mount Healthy. The Springfield Township resident was 79.
"Ed Eilers, as the very first franchisee of our concept in 1967, pioneered growth for LaRosa's," said restaurant group founder Buddy LaRosa. "His leadership was instrumental in the expansion throughout the Greater Cincinnati region. He also set a strong example for others through his generous support of our community schools and charities."
In the early 1960s, Mr. Eilers worked for Pepperidge Farm and delivered hoagie buns to LaRosa's original Westwood location. While lunching with Buddy LaRosa, Mr. Eilers found out that the pizza joint's founder hoped to expand. The two struck a deal sealed with a handshake - and the first franchise was opened in Finneytown.
Mr. Eilers worked to make his venture a success - bringing his family to the restaurant in the evenings instead of going home, so they could have dinner together. He opened a second franchise, in Mount Healthy in 1969, and his third pizzeria in College Hill in 1980.
Over the years, many future franchisees learned the business by working for Mr. Eilers.
Survivors include: his wife, Eleanor Santel Eilers; two sons, Edward Jr. and Mark; three daughters, Pat Lisk, Carol Hagen and Jan Weller; 11 grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.
Services have been held. Burial was at Arlington Memorial Gardens.
Memorials: Hospice of Cincinnati, P.O. Box 633597, Cincinnati, OH 45263-3597.
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