• M’s Martin Williams on creating ‘multi-faceted’ venues

    Having left his MD role at Gaucho in 2014 the stakes were high for  Martin Williams, but a genuine passion to give diners and drinkers what they are looking for from a premium venue meant his new venture, M Restaurants, was always going to hit the floor running. Here he explains what M is all about and his concept of a creating “multi-faceted” venues.

    Having left his MD role at Gaucho in 2014 the stakes were high for  Martin Williams, but a genuine passion to give diners and drinkers what they are looking for from a premium venue meant his new venture, M Restaurants, was always going to hit the floor running. Here he explains what M is all about and his concept of a creating “multi-faceted” venues.

    mm By May 11, 2016

    How Martin Williams is looking to re-invent wining and dining in London

    If you have had the chance to visit either of the current two M Restaurants, either at Threadneedle Street in the City, or just down from Victoria Station on Victoria Street, then you will have an idea of what founder Martin Williams means by creating a multi-faceted venue. For it is quite possible to start with breakfast and end up dancing at midnight. Here he explains why he believes a trip to M is like no other in London.   

    Explain what you mean by a multi-faceted restaurant?

    We want to be a venue that can mean different things to you at different times of the day.We offer a number of different experiences in the one venue to suit people’s different moods and needs during the week.

    So you can come for breakfast, lunch, a drink after work, cocktails before dinner, or just for dinner itself. 

    At our Victoria venue there is the browsing element in the wine shop on the ground floor; the high-octane excitement of the bar area; and then you can walk through to the calm of the restaurant. 

    The what we call ‘dwell times” for customers can be very long. They might come in for lunch and end up staying here for dinner as well. We want to create an atmosphere that sucks you in.  We also don’t turn tables either. Your table is yours for as long as you want.

    Where did the idea come from?
    I wanted to provide some of the benefits of a private members club.
    It works very well with the demographics of the area around Victoria. We have also got a nice mixture of fashion, retail and media companies nearby who really get it.
    But we are know we are  sort of pioneers in the area as it is not well known for dining at this level. Things, though, are changing with more restaurants and tops names like Jason Atherton looking to open around Victoria. 
     

    Why do yo have your own wine store at the Victoria venue?

    It is a unique proportion to offer customers restaurant exclusive wine to buy and take home. It is also, at Victoria, a good way to promote our offer to all the passing traffic and bring them in to the venue.  If they go on to to buy wine we can then keep a record of them and use that information to potentially market information to them about the restaurant and what we have to offer there.

    At Victoria the restaurants and bar are downstairs so the wine shop makes it more accessible as people might be a little intimidated working straight in at street level. The wine stores invites them in and then they can go on to discover what we have downstairs.

    There are up to 50 machines from which guests can use their own card to sample restaurant quality wines
    There are up to 50 machines from which guests can use their own card to sample restaurant quality wines

    What sort of range do you stock?

    We have wines from £8.50 through to £3,500 for specialist wines like Petrus and Screaming Eagle.

    It also means we can show a much deeper choice of wines from a given country.

    Take South Africa. In a supermarket you would probably only see Pinotage or Chenin Blanc, but we can go much further and show the exciting blends coming out of the country. The Bordeaux blends, for example. 

    So a £10 bottle of wine here is much more of a classic representation of what that country has to offer and is on trend than you would find in most wine stores. 

    It is pretty unique in that we can offer restaurant quality wine you can’t get anywhere else at wine merchant prices. We also have free corkage on any wine bought in the shop to drink in the restaurant.
    They can also taste 50 wines by the glass from electronic sampling machines. 

    What sort of reaction have you had?

    Very good. We have been doing around £1,000 a day in the shop. Plus we have people using the 50 wine by the glass machines in the upstairs tasting area. 

    Explain your relationship with your main drinks supplier Matthew Clark?

    We decided we wanted to have one main drinks partner who we could build a partnership and relationship with. So as well as supply us with their own wines we have also asked Matthew Clark to source wines we want from other suppliers as well so that we can get our wines through the one main contact. It is the first time they have worked like that with someone and it is working very well. They have been very receptive to our ideas and what we want to do here.

    The main dining room at Victoria appears like a stage away from the rest of the venue
    The main dining room at Victoria appears like a stage away from the rest of the venue

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