Sponsored by Bunzl Catering & Hospitality Division
Dutch national Zeev Godik had experience of running Argentine-style steakhouses in Holland before opening the first Gaucho Grill in London in 1994.
The company's ownership structure has changed several times, including a spell being listed on the stock market before Godik took it private again in 2002. But in recent years the business has demonstrated consistent growth, and following the 2010 management buy-out backed by Intermediate Capital Group, it has expanded to 16 restaurants in London, Manchester and Leeds, as well as one each in Dubai and Beirut.
Ever popular with City workers, Gaucho's restaurants have defied the consumer downturn, despite its upmarket menu offer. In fact, the business recorded sales of £50.6m in the year to December 2010, up 11.5% on the year before.
More recently, Gaucho Group has launched a new, more casual, accessible restaurant concept called Cau, run as a separate business, which is aimed at regional cities. The first site opened in Guildford, Surrey, and more are planned for Brighton, Bath, Oxford and Cambridge, among other locations.
The judges were impressed by Godik's entrepreneurial flair and his talents as a true restaurateur, which have helped him steer his business through choppy financial waters, and open a premium brand outside of London - a feat which has eluded many a competitor.
WHAT THE JUDGES SAID
"Zeev has built from scratch one of the most impressive restaurant operations in the UK, a feat made possible only by his complete dedication to delivering a fantastic and consistent product in wonderfully atmospheric surroundings coupled with the best service in the business. A monumental achievement by any standards!"
Jonathan Kaye, Prezzo
"Gaucho's relentless training of its people is a credit to him. To successfully step outside London with a premium brand and succeed where many have failed is very impressive."
Iain Donald, Individual Restaurant Company
â- Carlo Distefano, proprietor and chairman, San Carlo Group - Birmingham
â- Zeev Godik, founder and chief executive, Gaucho Group
The JudgesIain Donald, commercial director, Individual Restaurant Company
Paul Ettinger, development director, Caffè Nero
James Horler, chief executive, 3Sixty Restaurants
Jonathan Kaye, chief executive officer, Prezzo
Simon Kossoff, managing director, Carluccio's
Robin Rowland, chief executive, Yo! Sushi