Gondola-owned casual dining brand Ask Italian is planning 20-30 refurbishments a year, as the 20-year-old brand continues to bring its estate up to date.
Speaking to Caterer and Hotelkeeper, Ask Italian managing director Steve Holmes said that the company, which has just under 120 sites across the UK, had noticed a marked improvement in performance in the 19 sites where it had already carried out a full refurbishment.
And he indicated that the brand had the capacity to grow further, with the possibility of reaching 150-200 sites eventually.
"These latest restaurants are seeing huge growth and are doing phenomenally well despite the competition and economic backdrop," he said.
The updated Ask Italian design takes a Milanese theme with a brighter and more contemporary look. Meanwhile, Michelin-starred chef Theo Randall continues to work with the brand on its menu, with a focus on fresh, authentic Italian dishes.
"Within the next 2-3 years we should have done the majority of the business and I think there is a real opportunity to create this beautiful, quite large Italian restaurant business that is very different to everyone else. That is our major focus," Holmes said.
When asked if the refresh of the Ask Italian brand could be a prelude to a sale of the business, Holmes said: "For us it is about creating this wonderful business and if someone wants to buy it then that's great. But it's not even on the cards. I will let other people worry about what will happen to the business."
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