Marcel Pitz came to tears when asked to describe the outpouring of support the community has provided for one of his sons, Marc Pitz.
Marc Pitz, 48, who helps his family run Dizz’s As Is restaurant along Coast Highway, is battling pancreatic cancer.
Thursday night marked the third fundraiser in the past week for Pitz. Laguna Beach Mayor Kelly Boyd and former City Manager Ken Frank escorted guests to their tables beginning with the first customers around 5:30 p.m. Dizz’s As Is was booked until 9 p.m.
Boyd’s son, Sean, played youth soccer with Marc 30 years ago. The mayor, who is also battling cancer, came up with the idea for Dizz’s to host a special dinner where he and Frank would help seat diners.
The restaurant, with its pink walls and timeless keepsakes including photos of Bob Hope, Lucille Ball and Humphrey Bogart, filled up fast within the first hour after opening. Circular pins with the phrase “No one fights alone” rested on each table.
The elder Pitz hugged a customer and gently patted his chest as he brought himself to speak as patrons walked to their tables.
“It’s very touching,” Marcel said of the support. He was expecting 100 diners Thursday.
Marcel said Marc is doing the best he can.
“It’s tough to recuperate from [surgery],” Marcel said. "[Marc] walks as much as he can, to get some fresh air. He can’t work. He can’t lift things.”
He has an MRI test next week to check his progress, Marcel said.
Marc had surgery in January to remove a tumor on his pancreas, his brother Dominic Pitz said. He spent two weeks at Keck Hospital of USC.
The Pitz family bought the cottage-style house and opened Dizz’s As Is in 1977. The former owner’s nickname was Dizz and the As Is part refers to the place settings and other decorations, all different, a newspaper article on a wall inside the restaurant says.
A blackboard listed the night’s offerings: Cornish game hen, duck a l’orange, cioppino, veal marsala and steak diane, among others.
Dominic lit outside heaters as the sun set and ocean breeze picked up.
“Marc is taking his time. He’s starting to drive a little bit, and making sure I’m doing the ordering,” Dominic said. “You can’t sit at home. He keeps his mind going.”
The community rallied to help generate money to pay for Pitz’s medical expenses. On Sunday Furioso Salon stylists offered haircuts for a minimum donation.
On Monday Watermarc Restaurant and The Saloon collaborated to offer dinner, a band and silent auction with proceeds going to Marc.
“It was beyond what I expected,” said family friend Michael Byrne about the response at the Monday event.
Dizz’s As Is has felt the onslaught of customers after word surfaced of Pitz’s cancer and the fundraising wheels started moving.
“There’s been a fantastic outpouring of goodwill toward Marc; it’s great,” said Kim McConnell, Marc’s brother-in-law, who has worked at the restaurant since 1982. “We’ll have 50 people show up and have one waiter because we think it’s going to be a slow night.”
Dizz’s is hosting another fundraiser at the restaurant, 2794 S. Coast Hwy., from 6 to 10 p.m. Monday. For $100, diners receive appetizers and bottomless beer and wine, Dominic said. F-Jams, a local band, will provide music. Reservations are not required.
Checks can be made out to “Friends of Marc Pitz.” An account has been set up at U.S. Bank. Donations can be mailed to the Laguna Beach U.S. Bank branch, 310 Glenneyre St. in Laguna Beach.