Macayo’s Mexican Grill & Cantina Executive Chef Luis Martine

By Lynette Carrington

Macayo’s Mexican Grill & Cantina Executive Chef Luis Martine

It is true that in the working world, everyone has to get their start somewhere. For Luis Martinez, little did he know that when he first took a job as a busser at Macayo’s in 1988, that it would wind up leading him into a deliciously rewarding career.

There were a few things about working at Macayo’s that Martinez pinpoints as things that interested him in staying with the company right from the start. Martinez explains, “The first thing was the opportunity to grow with the company. I was young and started out as a busser and I wanted to be a cook. I moved up the ranks incredibly quickly because my hard work was noticed. Second, I noticed not only how the owners took care of their employees, but the customers, too. If service was not up to Woody’s standard, the guest’s meal was free. A lot of pride has always been taken at Macayo's. From the quality of food we provide to our guests, to the high standard of customer service we extend to our guests.”

Martinez took the lead from owners Woody and Victoria Johnson’s example. Martinez says, “I have learned that, ‘Consistency is key - every guest, every time.’ That was Woody's motto. I learned that we make our homemade recipes exactly the same way, every day and that we treat our guests the same great way, every time. It builds a foundation for our customer to be able to rely on the same great experience with every visit. That is why we have been around 70 years!”

Macayo’s CEO and daughter of Woody and Victoria, Sharisse Johnson made some changes to the Scottsdale menu recently and Martinez has been pleased with the feedback. Martinez explains, “It was scary for me at first. I was not sure how the guests would react to these new menu items. Like I said, we have been around for 70 years and people are often hesitant to change. I have learned if you make change happen with the best interest to provide a better quality of product to the guest, then change is great!”

Over the years, Martinez has grown in his continued love of Mexican food. He says, “I am Hispanic so I have always had much appreciation for Mexican food my whole life. What I really like with Macayo's is that we are always striving to come up with new ideas and push Mexican food forward in a positive direction. Woody used to have chicken fried steak on one of his menus. We are now doing fried avocados at the Scottsdale location.” Without sacrificing quality, Macayo’s always works to be innovative with its food menu without ever sacrificing taste or quality.

In his extensive duties at Macayo’s, Martinez never has a dull moment. “I am responsible mainly for the kitchen and the back-of-the-house crew,” states Martinez. “I start my morning off filling out the prep sheet and giving the crew direction on what needs to be made for the day. I check rotation of product, check temperatures and ensure organization daily. I do the food orders to ensure we are only ordering what we need to keep everything fresh. I provide a great work environment for my crew while still maintaining great focus in making sure the food is perfect before going to the guest. I test new ideas on a weekly basis, trying always to perfect new recipes and working out all the kinks. I am also in charge of kitchen inventories and helping to maintain our team's focus and goals for any given period.”

Even after three decades working at Macayo’s, Martinez continues to love his work, the management and leadership and his staff. “I love that I can be me and that people listen when I have something to say,” explains Martinez. “Macayo's treats its employees like family. This company cares about the quality of food they serve their guests and the quality of service they are providing as well. Macayo's strives to provide each employee with a great quality of life and shows them appreciation. I have been around 30 years and I couldn’t be happier.”

Macayo’s invites all its guests to “Join The Family” via its online link. The free Macayo’s membership includes a delicious gift when you first join, Macayo’s special news and events, exclusive offers and coupons and e-club anniversary treats.

Family-owned and operated, Macayo’s Mexican Kitchen has been serving fresh, homemade Mexican cuisine since 1946! Still used today, almost 70 years later, are the signature recipes created by original owners Woody and Victoria Johnson. These two were committed to quality ingredients served with a warm and friendly touch.

Woody and Victoria Johnson began Macayo’s in 1946, opening their first restaurant on Central Avenue in Phoenix, Arizona. That day they established the standards on food quality, freshness and guest experience that continue today. You will taste the tradition at every table, in every dish and every flavorful ingredient! Every family has their secrets, the Johnson’s just happen to be recipes!

Macayo’s has 12 Arizona locations in Scottsdale, Tempe, Mesa, Phoenix, Glendale, Surprise, Goodyear, Casa Grande and Tucson. Visit for individual locations. Macayo’s Mexican Grill & Cantina is located at 11107 N. Scottsdale Rd., Scottsdale. Call (480) 596-1181 for additional information and quotes for catering and in-restaurant banquets.