VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Oceanfront business owners and neighbors are mourning the loss of a light in the community.
The Pink Dinghy co-owner Chase Pittman, 35, died in his sleep this week. It came as a shock to friends and family
He just recently opened the restaurant in the ViBe Creative District.
On Friday, Pittman’s close friends and family gathered at The Pink Dinghy with heavy, but full hearts, to honor him.
The Virginia Beach native opened his restaurant in June. His friend LG Shaw, co-owner of WRV, said he was a part of the ViBe District community for a long time before that.
“His energy and spirit is flowing all through the businesses back here, in one way or another,” Shaw said.
He had an artistic eye.
“He was so critical in building this ViBe Arts District,” said Esoteric Co-owner Kristina Chastain. “It is a loss that we are going to feel for a long time.”
Chastain said Pittman faced hurdles like COVID when opening his restaurant.
“He had a lot of trouble getting open,” Chastain said. “He had an automobile go through his building.”
But Chastain said he and co-owner Stephanie Dietz made culinary magic.
“The Pink Dinghy adds a really cool creative business to our mix, which we need,” Chastain said. “The esthetic of the building. His ambiance and vibe, getting a DJ on the roof.”
His business partner, Stephanie Dietz, said in a statement that 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,” Dietz said. “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 anyone else, he was my partner in the truest sense of the word. The restaurant, our staff and myself will be feeling this loss forever.
Pittman didn’t stop at food. He spearheaded the Logstradamus surfing event at the Oceanfront.
“Everybody calls him the ‘big idea’ guy,” said Jars of Dust Owner Mallorie Terranova.
Terranova said surfing was a huge part of him.
“He always had a board hanging out of the back of his SUV,” Terranova said.
Friends said he also helped organize the Oceanfront paddle-out in honor of George Floyd, back in June.
“He just made people feel important to him, in the most genuine way,” Terranova said.
Business owners said Pittman became family, and the ViBe won’t ever be the same.
“He’s such a unique entrepreneur,” Chastain said. “All of us are in shock.”
“The community and beyond, losing Chase Pittman, it’s going to take a long time for us to figure it out,” Shaw said. “He was a brilliant guy.”
On October 31, the community is holding a memorial service and paddle-out for Pittman at the Oceanfront. That starts on First Street at 2 p.m.