Meet The Maker: With Phil And Helen Thomas, Owners Of Shoreline At Paignton Beach

How long have you owned Shoreline, and what prompted you to buy it?

We took over Shoreline in 2006. Helen was working in a bank, and I had lost the enthusiasm for my career in insurance, so we decided to look for something to do together, working for ourselves. 

Helen also worked part-time for Apollo Cinema (as it was back then), which was next door to Shoreline, and she always commented on how little effort the staff put in. She believed the business was ripe for development and new ideas, and then one day it was advertised for sale in the Herald Express. The rest is history!

What can you tell us about your restaurant, and how have you approached the menu?

We always wanted Shoreline to be the place in Paignton that we would go to if we wanted to eat out. At the time we bought Shoreline, there was little there to tempt us. 

In terms of the menu, we always make everything we can here in the kitchen and use as much fresh, local produce as possible. Also, we usually only deal with local suppliers – they really do seem to understand the needs of small business so much better than the nationals.

You recently invested in a pizza oven after a trip to Italy, can you tell us more about that?

It was actually kind of the other way round – we offered pizzas on our menu and they were becoming more and more popular. In fact, Olivia Colman used to pop in for our pizzas with her kids when she was filming Broadchurch.

We decided that if pizzas were going to be this popular, we should find a better, more authentic way of making them, so we enrolled on a training course in Florence and organised the purchase of our oven direct from the Valoriani factory while we were there.

What are your personal favourite dishes on the menu?

Phil’s favourite is without doubt our Spanish pizza with chorizo and Manchego cheese. I love the Parma pizza, which is topped with Parma ham, fresh rocket, parmesan shavings, and finished with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

What are you passionate about?

Family, friends, and sharing good food and drink. Phil’s also a keen rugby fan, and I love making things – I made all the blinds at Shoreline myself.

We’re both keen cyclists too! In 2019, Helen completed the 100-mile-long Prudential Ride London.

Which other local restaurants do you like to eat at?

We tend to choose independent restaurants and we both love Italian food, so for that we go to Amici in Torquay. We have followed Adrian, the chef, to Chelston Manor, and you can’t beat burger and pint night at The Kents!

When you are not at your restaurant, how do you like to spend your time?

Well, as January is usually fairly quiet, we’d normally be off travelling at this time of year. We don’t ‘backpack’ as such, but we’ve definitely made the most of our Januaries over the last few years. We also moved house recently, so have had lots to do there. This has restricted our cycling somewhat, but hopefully that’s something we can get back to soon.

These are uneasy and uncertain times. How did you as a business respond to COVID-19 in 2020?

We worked really hard to comply with the ever-changing guidelines, introduced a new one-way system (which we love and won’t be changing back), and have enrolled in the ‘good to go’ scheme. 

We’ve also helped out Katie Cavanna and her community interest company RE4orm by cooking meals for them during the lockdowns, which they distribute to those most in need. This is something we’ll continue to do going forwards.

Despite the challenges we faced in 2020, we were awarded GOLD in the Food Drink Devon awards for Business of the Year, and this is something we’re incredibly proud of!

What can we look forward to when you are able to re-open?

Once we re-open, we’d love to extend our affinity schemes. We currently have a dog walking group where 10% of their spend goes to Animals in Distress. Also, networking groups were becoming a regular feature, and we’d like to grow our party and function nights when it’s allowed.

Plus, as we’ve recently invested in a mobile pizza oven there is every chance that if you can’t come to us, we can come to you!

How can we as a community support you as a local business?

Come in and try our great food and drinks! If you like it, recommend us. If not, tell us! We understand that no-one’s perfect, so please let us know if something’s not right, so we can correct it. 

Also, downloading the NHS COVID-19 app will speed up entry to the restaurant for you, and for those behind you!

To keep up to date with what we’re doing, you can follow us on social media using our
@shorelineatpaigntonbeach tag.

Lastly, what else would you like to say to those not in the hospitality industry?

Please help us by wearing a mask, using the NHS test and trace app, and knowing and complying with the COVID-19 rules and guidelines. Remember, we don’t make the rules, and they’re there for the safety of staff and customers alike. 

We need to get this fantastic industry back on its feet as soon as it is safe to do so, and I’m sure we speak for the whole industry when we say we really miss our customers and can’t wait to see busy, bustling bars and restaurants again!

Written By: Kelly Widley


Dinner for two at Shoreline!

Enter below to win a bottle of wine, artisan pizzas & sides for 2, plus a sharer dessert pizza!

WIN A Luxury Dinner From the crew at Shoreline!

Get a taste of the Bay with a fresh, locally produced meal from Shoreline! Including Artisan Pizzas with Sides for two, a bottle of wine, and a sharer Dessert Pizza for a night of indulgence!

Here’s how to be in with a chance of winning this

Email your name, company, address, and phone number to
or go to our website at and fill in your details on the online form.

T&Cs: Winner to redeem their prize in 2021 following lockdown, when Shoreline in Paignton, Devon is able to reopen. Dietary requirements catered for.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience