Former Newport restaurateur remembered for his cooking prowess, dedication as a reserve officer

David Lee Fish, who died in Corona, owned the Pacific Coast Diner on Mariner's Mile for 10 years. He was 63.

August 16, 2011|By Lauren Williams,

David Lee Fish, a former Newport Beach reserve police officer and restaurateur, died in Corona earlier this month. He was 63.

Fish lived up to his name. He owned the Pacific Coast Diner, a former West Newport eatery, from 1975 to 1985, and was remembered by friends and family as an avid fisherman and master chef who could make any dish.

This corrects where Pacific Coast Diner was. It was in West Newport, not Mariner's Mile as originally reported.

Former employee Phyllis Truesdell worked for Fish at the diner for 10 years. She said her relationship with her former boss grew into a decades-long friendship.


She added that her husband and Fish shared many commonalities, including food, fishing and football.

"It was just a really good friendship," Truesdell said.

The Pacific Coast Diner was open nearly 24 hours daily, closed only between 4 and 6 a.m. for cleaning, Truesdell said.

"It was really a hotspot," Truesdell said.

Even after the Pacific Coast Diner closed, Fish remained a chef and was an entertainer renowned for the famous pozole stew he brought to Super Bowl parties, Truesdell said.

Family members remember his restaurant-style cooking at home.

"My dad was the chef of the household. … He could cook anything," said Fish's daughter, Lara Cuppetelli. "There was never a meal when I was growing up that came out of a box or can."

Her dad's best dishes were later incorporated in a cookbook he sold online, Cuppetelli said.

Truesdell remembers Fish always listening to police scanners before joining the force as a reserve officer, which he did from 1986 to 2001.

Capt. Tom Gazsi remembered Fish as devoted while working patrol and as a juvenile detective, among other responsibilities.

"We're very, very sorry, and he'll be greatly missed," Gazsi said.

More recently, Fish worked for the Orange County Department of Education in the resource program, Cuppetelli said.

About 50 people came to Fish's memorial services Aug. 8 in Corona, Truesdell said.

A cause of death has yet to be determined.

Fish is survived by his wife of 35 years, Cuppetelli and four grandchildren.

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