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ASK Italian

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
ASK Italian Restaurants Limited
Number of locations
OwnerAzzurri Central Limited
Restaurant in Beverley, Yorkshire
Restaurant in Tunbridge Wells, Kent
Interior of the York Assembly Rooms, now an ASK Italian restaurant

ASK Italian Restaurants Limited,[2] trading as ASK or ASK Italian, is a British casual dining restaurant chain that serves Italian cuisine in 65 locations in the United Kingdom.[3]

The chain, founded by brothers Adam and Samuel Kaye in 1993, and floated on AIM in 1995, was the subject of a public-to-private deal in 2004,[4] after which it was merged with Pizza Express[5] to form Gondola Holdings,[6] later part of the Gondola Group. It was acquired along with Zizzi for £250 million by Bridgepoint Capital in February 2015.[7] It was later bought in 2020 by TowerBrook Capital Partners.[8]

The name is made up of the founders' initials, though it is often misunderstood as an acronym for "Authentic Sicilian Kitchen". The chain rebranded itself from "ASK" to "ASK Italian" in 2010.[9]

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.[10][11] In June 2015, he became an investor in the Azzurri Group, which owns and runs the restaurant chain.[12]

Charity fundraising[edit]

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 cookbook sales, a digital charity box, and donations from a range of dishes.[13]


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, Azzurri 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 United Kingdom 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]


  • The ASK Italian Cookbook (2012)[18]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "ASK Italian building in Canterbury High Street goes on sale". KentOnline. 16 October 2019. Retrieved 1 December 2019.
  2. ^ "ASK ITALIAN RESTAURANTS LIMITED overview - Find and update company information - GOV.UK". Companies House. 1 October 2016. Retrieved 3 August 2023.
  3. ^ "About us". ASK Italian. Ask Restaurants publication. Archived from the original on 17 September 2016. Retrieved 15 May 2023.
  4. ^ "Kaye brothers set to bag £15m in Ask Pizza sale". Efinancialnews.com. 23 January 2004. Retrieved 26 September 2015.
  5. ^ "Merger with Pizza Express". TDR Capital.com. Archived from the original on 7 July 2014. Retrieved 1 December 2019.
  6. ^ "Formation of Gondola Holdings". TDR Capital.com. Archived from the original on 31 October 2014. Retrieved 1 December 2019.
  7. ^ "Bridgepoint completes £250 million acquisition of ASK ITALIAN and ZIZZI (Press release)". Bridgepoint. 9 February 2015. Retrieved 1 December 2019.
  8. ^ "Azzurri Group acquired in pre-pack by Towerbrook Capital Partners". RPBI Openings. Retrieved 3 January 2023.
  9. ^ William Drew (16 January 2013). "Ask Italian: Business company profile restaurant magazine". Bighospitality.co.uk. Retrieved 26 September 2015.
  10. ^ "GH meets chef Theo Randall". Good Housekeeping. 15 August 2013. Retrieved 24 September 2015.
  11. ^ "ASK Italian restaurant group partners with Theo Randall to launch new menu | Eat Out Magazine". Eatoutmagazine.co.uk. Archived from the original on 25 September 2015. Retrieved 24 September 2015.
  12. ^ Walsh, Dominic (16 June 2015). "Top chef takes slice of ASK and Zizzi chains". The Times. Retrieved 1 December 2019.
  13. ^ "ASK Italian | Great Ormond Street Hospital Children's Charity". Gosh.org. Archived from the original on 9 September 2015. Retrieved 1 December 2019.
  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". 14 January 2020. Retrieved 14 January 2020.
  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 25 September 2015. Retrieved 24 September 2015.

External links[edit]