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Inside track

15 October 2004
Inside track

What business is it in? The company was set up by brothers Adam and Samuel Kaye. It owns 190 restaurants across the UK: Ask (118), Zizzi (66) and six US-style Jo Schmo diners

What's its form? The first Ask opened in Belsize Park, London, in June 1993. The group expanded quickly, particularly in the capital. Ask is a family restaurant, offering salads and a varying menu. It does a lot of business at lunchtime. Zizzi is more of an all-round Tuscan experience, with a wood-burning stove and traditional cuisine.

Where's its head office and area of operation
The head office is at 20 High Street, St Albans, Hertfordshire. The restaurants are spread throughout the UK, with the exception of Cornwall and Northern Ireland. The company looks for interesting and historical buildings as its venues. The Winchester branch of Ask is housed in the 15th-century God Begot House (pictured below).

What sort of employer is it? It employs 11,000 staff. The management trainee scheme lasts for six weeks, providing recruits with across-the-board experience in the kitchen, on the floor and in restaurant management. There is a bonus scheme that rewards good service every quarter. Staff can keep their cash tips, and a 40-hour week will net £180 excluding tips. The organisation frequently promotes staff from within. For more information write to Elaine Coles, 216 Haverstock Hill, London NW3 2AE or visit www.askcentral.co.uk

How does the future look? Keep stoking those wood-burning ovens. The plan is for 20 more restaurants in the next three to six months.

How did you know? The name Ask comes from combining Adam and Samuel Kaye's initials.

Did you also know?
Adam and Samuel's cousin is Jonathan Kaye, who runs Prezzo.

Company Philosophy? Freshly prepared food, stylish surroundings and friendly service.

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