ASK Italian Hornchurch staff ‘completely gutted’ as restaurant closes without notice

PUBLISHED: 13:37 20 July 2020 | UPDATED: 14:16 20 July 2020

ASK Italian Hornchurch won't be reopening after staff spend months on furlough waiting to return. Picture: Google

ASK Italian Hornchurch won't be reopening after staff spend months on furlough waiting to return. Picture: Google


Hornchurch ASK Italian is closing and around 20 furloughed employees are being made redundant.

According to former waiter Ethan Cabezas, on July 2 staff received an update from the head chef who was also the liaison with parent company Azzurri, informing them that the company had been bought by investment bank Bridgepoint but it was no cause for concern. The letter read: “We as a company are very strong and one of the strongest in the hospitality industry, so don’t panic. This will not affect any of us on a restaurant level, I have been through this before and nothing will change.

“The plan when to reopen sites all depends on when we get these new investors. We will open up 16 sites and if that goes well we will progress into opening up more sites quickly.

“If it goes bad then we will be cautious in going forward. When we open they think with the new procedures we will only lose 30-40 per cent of trade.”

Only employees who have worked at the branch for two and half years qualify for a redundancy package, confirms assistant manager Maclaren Wildego.

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She started at ASK in November last year, having started as a waitress and being promoted. She hoped to make her way up to supervisor.

“The news was just completely out of the blue and was completely gutting. It was all going so well, if we could just have some notice we could have at least been more prepared.

“We were assured throughout lockdown that we would be coming back, it was all just false hope really.”

Ethan added: “Not even an hour [of notice]. I was expecting to be working full time when we reopened. Some of our 20 staff have children under five and some who are pregnant. Everyone was quite upset as it came very out of the blue.”

The Hornchurch ASK staff say that Zizzi’s in Station Road is to remain open.

The Azzurri group confirmed it is closing 75 ASK, Zizzi’s and Coco di Mama sites but could not confirm which ones as it is still undergoing the “review process.”

The company also said that they have done their best to keep employees informed about the ongoing situation about furlough and reopening, and say the letter from the head chef was not verified by or issued by Azzurri.

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