ASK, also known as ASK Italian is a British casual dining restaurant chain that serves Italian cuisine in 120 locations in the UK.
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, after which it was merged with Pizza Express to form Gondola Holdings, which was later part of the Gondola Group, and was acquired along with Zizzi for £250 million by Bridgepoint Capital in February 2015.
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.
In 2010, Theo Randall started working with ASK Italian restaurants as their 'expert friend', developing menus and coming up with new dishes. In June 2015, he took his relationship with the brand further by becoming an investor in to the Azzurri Group, which owns and runs the restaurant chain.
Kiss It Better Campaign ASK Italian embarked on a partnership with Great Ormond Street Hospital Children's Charity in 2008 when they chose to support the charity’s Kiss it Better appeal by donating £1 for every kids menu sold during the campaign, and by asking customers to add a kiss £1 onto their bill. They smashed their original target of £20,000 to raise an astonishing £73,000 in just four weeks ASK Italian went on to raise a further £200,000 for the charity in the following two years, through a range of activities including sales of a celebrity cook book and donations from a range of dishes.
The money raised was able to fund both a ward kitchen and an adolescent dining and recreation area on Bear Ward, part of the Wolfson Heart and Lung Centre housed in the Morgan Stanley Clinical Building, the first part of the Mittal Children's Medical Centre.
The ASK Italian Cookbook In November 2012, the ASK Italian Cookbook was launched to help raise funds for the partnership. Edited by prize-winning food writer Carla Capalbo, and with special recipes from TV chef and Italian cooking expert Theo Randall, this lovely cookbook contains more than 100 authentic Italian recipes to cook at home, from hand-made fettuccine to perfect risottos and indulgent desserts. The ASK Italian Cookbook is available from all ASK Italian restaurants for £10 with £4 from each sale going directly to Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity.
The ASK Italian Grand Tour
During September 2013, ASK Italian took one of their most ambitious charity projects to date: The ASK Italian Grand Tour. Over 22 days of activity, the ASK Italian Grand Tour visited every ASK Italian restaurant in the UK, covering over 2,500 miles by bike, on foot and from behind the wheel. Around 400 team members got involved in two 600 mile bike-rides, two day-long walks and a triathlon. During the tour a number of restaurants were joined by local families who have benefited from Great Ormond Street Hospital.
The ASK Italian Grand Tour was officially brought to a close at a celebration finale party in October 2013 attended by Jilly Hale, Head of Nursing at Great Ormond Street Hospital, who collected a cheque for £208,675 raised during the event.
Pennies In early 2013 ASK Italian switched on Pennies, the digital charity box in all their restaurants, giving their customers the option to top up their bill by 25p and donate to charity Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity.
In February 2015, Bridgepoint Capital brought ASK Italian along with its sister brand Zizzi from Cinven in a transaction totalling £250 million.
In November 2015 the chain was one of seven restaurants surveyed that failed to meet a basic level of sustainability in its seafood.The ASK Italian Cookbook (2012)