ASK Italian

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ASK Italian
Azzurri Restaurants Ltd
Number of locations
120[1]
Websitehttps://www.askitalian.co.uk/
Previous logo
Ask restaurant, Wetherby (2010)

ASK, also known as ASK Italian is a British casual dining restaurant chain that serves Italian cuisine in 120 locations in the UK.[2]

The chain, founded by brothers Adam Kaye and Samuel Kaye in 1993, and floated on AIM in 1995, was the subject of a public-to-private deal in 2004,[3] after which it was merged with Pizza Express [4] to form Gondola Holdings,[5] which was later part of the Gondola Group, and was acquired along with Zizzi for £250 million by Bridgepoint Capital in February 2015.[6]

The name can be construed either as the founders' initials or as an acronym for "Authentic Sicilian Kitchen". ASK was the chain's original name, it was rebranded as ASK Italian from 2010.[7]

Theo Randall[edit]

In 2010, Theo Randall started working with ASK Italian restaurants as their 'expert friend', developing menus and coming up with new dishes.[8][9] In June 2015, he became an investor in the Azzurri Group, which owns and runs the restaurant chain.[10]

Charity fundraising[edit]

Kiss It Better Campaign ASK Italian partnered with Great Ormond Street Hospital Children's Charity in 2008 to donate £1 for every kids menu sold during the campaign, and by asking customers to add a £1 donation onto their bill. This raised £73,000 in four weeks. The chain went on to raise a further £200,000 for the charity in the following two years, including through celebrity cook book sales, a digital charity box and donations from a range of dishes.[11]

Ownership[edit]

In February 2015, Bridgepoint Capital bought ASK Italian along with its sister brand Zizzi from Cinven in a transaction totalling £250 million.[12][13]

Controversies[edit]

In November 2015 the chain was one of seven restaurants surveyed that failed to meet a basic level of sustainability in its seafood.[14]

In November 2019, Azzuri Restaurants admitted in court that a dish described as "lobster and king prawns" contained only 35% lobster, and had white fish and other ingredients mixed in and formed to appear as lobster meat. The dish was sold between 2014 and March 2019.[15]

COVID-19 pandemic[edit]

On 20 March 2020, all restaurants in the UK were closed indefinitely due to new rules regarding the national lockdown initiated by the government to reduce the spread of COVID-19.[16] On 17 July 2020, Azzurri Group, owner of the Zizzi and ASK Italian chains, announced the closure of 75 restaurants with the loss of up to 1,200 jobs.[17]

Works[edit]

  • The ASK Italian Cookbook (2012)[18]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "ASK Italian building in Canterbury High Street goes on sale". KentOnline. 16 October 2019. Retrieved 2019-12-01.
  2. ^ "About us". Ask Restaurants publication. Archived from the original on 17 September 2016. Retrieved 13 October 2010.
  3. ^ "Kaye brothers set to bag £15m in Ask Pizza sale". Efinancialnews.com. 2004-01-23. Retrieved 2015-09-26.
  4. ^ "Merger with Pizza Express". TDR Capital.com. Archived from the original on 2014-07-07. Retrieved 1 December 2019.
  5. ^ "Formation of Gondola Holdings". TDR Capital.com. Archived from the original on 2014-10-31. Retrieved 1 December 2019.
  6. ^ "Bridgepoint completes £250 million acquisition of ASK ITALIAN and ZIZZI (Press release)". Bridgepoint. February 9, 2015. Retrieved 2019-12-01.
  7. ^ William Drew (2013-01-16). "Ask Italian: Business company profile restaurant magazine". Bighospitality.co.uk. Retrieved 2015-09-26.
  8. ^ "GH meets chef Theo Randall". Good Housekeeping. August 15, 2013. Retrieved 2015-09-24.
  9. ^ "ASK Italian restaurant group partners with Theo Randall to launch new menu | Eat Out Magazine". Eatoutmagazine.co.uk. Archived from the original on 2015-09-25. Retrieved 2015-09-24.
  10. ^ Walsh, Dominic (June 16, 2015). "Top chef takes slice of ASK and Zizzi chains". The Times. Retrieved 2019-12-01.
  11. ^ "ASK Italian | Great Ormond Street Hospital Children's Charity". Gosh.org. Archived from the original on 2015-09-09. Retrieved 2019-12-01.
  12. ^ "£250m ASK Italian and Zizzi acquisition completed as restaurant sales surge - Real Business". Realbusiness.co.uk. February 9, 2015. Retrieved 2019-12-01.
  13. ^ "Bridgepoint / Bridgepoint completes £250 million acquisition of ASK ITALIAN and ZIZZI". Bridgepoint.eu. Retrieved 2015-09-24.
  14. ^ Smithers, Rebecca (18 November 2015). "More than half of UK's family restaurant chains serving unsustainable seafood". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 December 2017.
  15. ^ "ASK restaurant fined over 'misleading' lobster". 2020-01-14. Retrieved 2020-01-14.
  16. ^ Holmes, Chris (March 2020). "A Message From Chris Holmes". Ask Italian. Retrieved 30 May 2020.
  17. ^ "Restaurant chain Zizzi and Ask Italian closing 75 branches". BBC News. 17 July 2020. Retrieved 18 July 2020.
  18. ^ The ASK Italian Cookbook by Carla Capalbo, Theo Randall. Archived from the original on 2015-09-25. Retrieved 2015-09-24.

External links[edit]