Ask Italian

Sector: Hospitality
Details: 150-cover Italian chain
Location: New Street, Birmingham

At over 100 sites and growing, ASK Italian is one of the UK’s leading casual dining restaurant brands. It first opened in 1992, and celebrated its twentieth anniversary in 2012 with a brand new identity, interior design and menu focussing on the simplicity, authenticity and accessibility of great Italian food. ASK typically looks for prime, high-footfall sites along High Streets in major cities and smaller towns, and has a bit of a penchant for buildings of local architectural interest. As one of our long term clients, we have helped to develop the ASK Italian portfolio across the country, installing bespoke HVAC systems in a wide range of interesting and challenging sites.

"We have a basic philosophy: to do simple Italian dishes really well. We are inspired by Italy, but we’re not trying to be a traditional trattoria."

Steve Holmes, Azzurri Group Chief Executive

Show me the money

Our involvement varies dramatically from site to site depending on the existing HVAC system installed and the building requirements. ASK Birmingham was particularly interesting as the restaurant is housed in a former Banking Hall. The site is a listed building with the original vaults and counting house still in the basement, so we had to work around certain areas, redesigning plans to ensure integral features stayed intact. The concrete walls were reinforced by steel, therefore forming holes was difficult. These are typical of the types of problems encountered when working on listed buildings; nevertheless, with a bit of ingenuity, solutions were found to ensure a fully functioning kitchen and air conditioning systems were installed.

That’s amore

In line with listed building regulations, we had to install and extraction system to cope with the high intensity heat generated from cooking pizzas. We installed a high efficiency CCA (Canopy Containment Air) hood which directs high-pressure low-volume air into the canopy, creating a negative pressure along the front lower edge and therefore drawing the cooking plume upwards. This system is designed to improve the removal of pollutants, convective heat and cooking emissions whilst significantly reducing extract rates. An ESP and Ultra-Violet filtration system was also installed to eliminate all perceptible traces of grease, odour and smoke from the extract emissions.

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