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Debbie Thomas

Debbie Thomas came to Paso Robles from Los Angeles in 2003 to pursue a slower pace of life...or so she thought.  Midway through a career that included upper management positions with licensed apparel companies like Adidas, Rival and Starter, she and her then business partner started planting field greens, fruit and nut trees on the Paso Robles property with a strong belief in eating locally and organically. Nine-hundred trees and various row crops later, the property became Thomas Hill Farms, and she and her partner began producing a local CSA program.


With the success of the CSA and the abundance of produce from the farm came the decision to open an organic restaurant in Paso Robles’ charming Park district as her sole focus. The result was Thomas Hill Organics, a locals-driven fresh market eatery which continues to source organic fruits and vegetables, locally-baked breads, and natural, grass-fed meats.

An Interview with Debbie

As Featured in BOLD Magazine

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Meet Debbie Thomas


We’re excited to introduce you to the always interesting and insightful Debbie Thomas. We hope you’ll enjoy our conversation with Debbie below.

Hi Debbie, thanks for sharing your insights with our community today. Part of your success, no doubt, is due to your work ethic and so we’d love if you could open up about where you got your work ethic from?

Personal experience. I grew up in a dysfunctional family environment. I overcame the challenges and adversity by overachieving in everything I did.

Appreciate the insights and wisdom. Before we dig deeper and ask you about the skills that matter and more, maybe you can tell our readers about yourself?

I just sold my Paso Robles, California, Thomas Hill Organics restaurant. After 14 years, it was time to follow my heart and passion. Leaving behind a successful career was scary, but it has led to a richer and more fulfilling life where food, wine, and travel have created a remarkable experience. I also have a short-term rental where I manage the marketing, maintenance, and guest communication. Financially this is beneficial to my travel budget.

If you had to pick three qualities that are most important to develop, which three would you say matter most?

I did not have a culinary background when I opened my restaurant. I did have a strong business sense from working for major companies like Adidas and Starter. I was in Sales and Marketing, which are critical elements of running a restaurant. The cooking part I left to my executive chefs.

Another quality was exceptional customer service. It was all about the customer, not about me or my chef. This is vital for a successful restaurant.

Last, I was a fair and firm leader. Listening to the needs of my team, and a bit of empathy, are all key. Hiring, training, and managing staff is not an easy task, but very important so you can build an amazing team.

Is there a particular challenge you are currently facing?

I have found transitioning from a 24/7 work week to retirement a challenge. Suddenly, there is no set schedule, and the absence of a daily routine has been hard. I frequently overdo it by taking on too many assignments and then I crash and burn. It’s hard but I am learning to pace myself so I can be more productive.

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