Friends describe Virginia Beach restaurant owner as "larger than life," as they mourn his passing

Posted at 3:11 PM, Oct 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-23 16:46:27-04

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Flowers and notes line the siding of the Pink Dinghy, a restaurant that opened by Chase Pittman back in June. Friends gathered Friday afternoon to remember Pittman’s life and legacy who died this week.

"The guy was really larger than life,” LG Shaw, one of Pittman’s closest friends, told News 3 by phone. "If he was hanging out with you and you were in his presence, it was quality time. Everything he did, he was very invested in."

That is how friends and co-workers are remembering Pittman. They describe him as someone caring, loving, and someone who made an impact in the ViBe Creative District.

"He was able to connect networks of people that otherwise might have never gotten intertwined,” Shaw added. “He was able to piece things together and make things happen that other people would never have taken on."

The Pink Dinghy is located on 19th Street between Cypress Avenue and Mediterranean Avenue.

"We just showed up and saw the flowers,” Cathy Harrell, a local resident, said. “It's so sad.”

She and her husband, Chris, were walking along 19th Street when they noticed the memorial set up in front of the restaurant. The two said they ate at the Pink Dinghy, adding they remember meeting Pittman.

"The restaurant had so much potential and he was doing such great things for the community,” Chris said. “It's such a huge loss."

News 3 interviewed Pittman back in June when the restaurant opened.

He told of his story, the two-year struggle it took to open the restaurant. He faced and overcame challenges until he was finally able to open the doors.

His business partner, Stephanie Dietz, shared her thoughts to News 3 in a statement:

Chase Pittman was one of a kind. He was generous, thoughtful and inclusive, he made everyone who walked through our doors feel at home with his warm spirit. He knew exactly how to curate a room of people, bringing people together was one of his many talents. I can’t imagine owning and operating a business with any one else, he was my partner in the truest sense of the word. The restaurant, our staff and myself will be feeling this loss forever.
Stephanie Deitz -- business partner

"We're very lucky that he actually brought to life some of his visions,” Shaw said, “and that we'll continue to be able to experience and interact with those things."

An experience that Cathy Harrell said she hopes continues.

“It's such a great addition to this neighborhood,” She said. “I hope they keep it going and his legacy lives on."

Deitz added the memorial will stay for the next several days and is open to the public to see.

There will be a memorial paddle-out event where friends will gather to ride out onto the water with paddle-boards, a sport Pittman enjoyed. The paddle-out is also open to the public but face masks are required. The event is Saturday, Oct. 31 at 2:00 p.m. and will meet at First Street in Virginia Beach.

Anyone who has pictures, videos and stories of Chase are encouraged to send those via email to