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