Shining a light on Lighthouse restaurant revamp

lighthouse milford
Hayley Darbishire with little Finley

FAMILY-friendly seaside dining is the inspiration for Milford’s new Lighthouse restaurant which opened for the first time on 4th July when lockdown restrictions eased.


Located in the former Marine Café on Hurst Road, the iconic building has been transformed by husband-and-wife team Hayley Darbishire and Steve Pillinger, who have been at the helm of Barton’s popular Cliff House for the last five years.

With seaside blues, mosaic tables and wooden feature-divides, the relaxing restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week.

After signing a lease on the building in February, the couple had hoped to launch the seaside bar and restaurant in April – before Covid-19 forced them to put their plans on hold.

Hayley admits it has been a difficult few months, after missing the date to be eligible for the government’s financial support by just 48 hours.

She said: “It certainly wasn’t the start we hoped for. But we are in this for the long run and we have already received wonderful feedback from the local community. Lots of our regular customers from the Cliff House have also been over to show us their support, which has been lovely.”

Allowing for social distancing, the restaurant can still cater for up to 45 diners inside and a further 30 in the outside seating areas. A takeaway hatch operates from the side of the building selling ice creams, coffees and snacks.

Hayley said: “When the government announced that pubs and restaurants could reopen, we had 10 days to get everything ready. It was important to us to make sure customers felt safe and relaxed without it feeling at all clinical.

“We have measures in place to protect our customers and staff, and everyone has responded amazingly. I think, for the time being at least, people have adapted to this new way of life.”

On top of the pressure of juggling two restaurants, Hayley and Steve also have a new baby in the mix after became parents to Finley last September.

Hayley said: “Finley has been such a good baby. He hasn’t had the opportunity to join any baby groups, but he comes into work with us a lot, so he is very used to lots of different people and is a sociable little boy!.”

The Lighthouse menu features breakfast served 9am-11am, followed by small plates, sharers and ciabattas as well as a full lunch and dinner menu. Guests can also enjoy hot drinks, cocktails, milkshakes and smoothies.

Hayley said: “It is wonderful to bring this amazing restaurant space back to life – we know that it is a much-loved and iconic building – and welcome people from Milford, Lymington and further afield.

“Our menu has been devised using high quality ingredients, which are locally sourced where possible. Just like the Cliff House, our emphasis is on fantastic customer service and really good food.”

To find out more visit