How I Got Here: Martin Williams

By Joe Lutrario

- Last updated on GMT

Martin Williams M Gaucho

Related tags Steak Casual dining Gaucho

The actor turned steak magnate is best known for his stint at Gaucho as managing director and founding M Restaurants. He recently returned to Gaucho to lead a re-invigoration of the business.

Why restaurants?
A love of food inspired by afternoons baking with my Mam from the age of three and a childhood working in the hotels of North Yorkshire.

Tell us something you wish you had been told at the start of your career?
Don’t waste money trying to prevent baldness.

What do you do in your spare time?
Run and walk with my labradoodle, eat and drink around the world and occasionally play bad golf.

What’s your favourite restaurant or group of restaurants (besides your current one)?
Trinity and Bistro Union in Clapham. Adam Byatt’s food is fantastic and he knows how to execute a local dining hotspot perfectly.

What would you be doing if you weren’t in restaurants?
I trained as an actor, but seem to have a business acumen and marketing skills, which could be applied to most sectors.

What motivates you?
If you are going to work as hard as we do in hospitality, be your best self and achieve something you can look back on with pride.

Where was your last holiday?
Monaco. We host a party with our Members of M on a yacht at the F1 Grand Prix each year. This summer, I stayed on a while afterwards and re-discovered the best food in Provence and the Cote D’ Azur.

Which colleague, mentor or employer has had the biggest influence on your approach to the restaurant business?
My brother Alun who is managing director for Esquire and Men’s Health Magazines has been a continuous mentor and rock throughout my career.

What keeps you up at night?
The fear of failure, responsibility of being a good employer to the teams at M and Gaucho, plus delivering to shareholders who have put their faith (and cash) in me. 

Worst business decision?
We have opened a couple of restaurants in emerging areas, knowing that it would take time to create a new culture of quality drinking and dining in these destinations, but not realising quite how long that journey takes.

Best business decision?
Taking the plunge to go for a big site for the first M venue in Threadneedle Street. It’s multi-faceted elements and the luxury of space have made it an established destination restaurant in the City.

What are you reading at the moment?
‘Not For Sale’ by David Batstone – an inspirational man who is fighting modern day slavery and sex trafficking through a model of successful business supporting sustainable social enterprise projects. We will be hosting M is not for sale ‘Pop Up’ restaurant in February, with all profits going towards the ‘Dignata’ restaurant group in Amsterdam.

What piece of advice would you give to those looking to climb the rungs in the business?
Dress like you would for the job you want to be promoted into. Work hard, play hard, think harder.

If you could change one thing about the restaurant industry today, what would it be?
Mindful Days for all. We have introduced five days a year in addition to holidays for all staff to take off, to improve their mental health and happiness. 


1976 Born in North Yorkshire 
1999-2001 GM, Wok Wok Restaurants 
2001- 2002 GM, Zizzi
2002 - 2005 Area Manager, Zizzi 
2004 - 2005 GM, Christophers
2005 - 2007 GM, Gaucho
2007 - 2009 Operations Manager, Gaucho
2009 - 2014 Managing Directo, Gaucho
2014 Founded M Restaurants
2018 Reemployed by Gaucho as CEO

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