‘She got it done’: Former owner of marina, restaurant dies

Published 10:33 pm Wednesday, January 25, 2017

A Suffolk native who served up seafood for years on Bennett’s Creek passed away earlier this month.

Linda Culley Frazier, 72, died on Jan. 13. She grew up on the creek, and it later provided her livelihood.

Frazier and her husband, Tommy Frazier, ran the Bennett’s Creek Marina and Creekside Seafood Restaurant from 1983 to 2000.

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“What a great time that was down there,” said their daughter, Pamela Frazier Hess.

Hess had grown up in Virginia Beach, and her parents owned an auto parts store. But when chains began to move into the area, her parents decided to do something different.

They moved the family to Bennett’s Creek when Pamela was 14 and her sister, Keith Daniels, was 20. They opened the marina in 1983, Hess said.

“It started off as just a marina with a little snack bar,” Hess said. “It was primarily for local crabbers and fishermen. It wasn’t a big thing.”

But Linda Frazier had big plans and the willpower to make them happen.

“I remember my mom saying, ‘That daggone snack bar,’” Hess said. “The next thing I knew, they were closing off one of the decks, and they had a restaurant.”

The couple had little to no experience running a restaurant, but soon folks drove or boated from miles around for she-crab soup, crabcakes and softshell crabs.

“It ended up being a good little family restaurant for our town,” Hess said.

It wasn’t just a restaurant customers’ families could enjoy; the family that ran it enjoyed it, too.

“Our cousins who lived up in the neighborhood came down and pitched in, and it was a family business,” Hess said.

Even employees who weren’t related by blood, even remotely, became family as well, Hess said.

“Some of them stayed with them from the very beginning to the end,” Hess said, recalling the family working together as her favorite memory of the marina and restaurant. “They all kind of became our extended family. It ended up being a really cool journey for all of us.”

Customers, too, were like family.

“We were always excited to see them,” Hess said.

Her parents’ relationship was an inspiration to many people, Hess said. Her dad died a little more than five years ago.

“Another thing I really appreciate now is how well they worked together,” Hess said. “They were such a great team and an inspiration to a lot of people.”

After working hard all week, the couple would retreat to the home they maintained at the beach after dinner on Sunday and would stay there Monday, when the restaurant was closed.

As a businesswoman, wife and mother, Linda Frazier never stopped and had no time for naysayers.

“She was a businesswoman, and she was in a sea of men,” Hess said. “She had to make her way with all of that. My mom was the one that went down and fought the Army Corps of Engineers to dredge the channel every other year. She went down there and fought them every couple of years, then she would come home and have a home-cooked meal on the table and then go to work for the night with barely a mention.

“When she made up her mind about something, she got it done,” Hess continued. “If somebody was a naysayer, she would tune that out and go on down the road and get it done.”

Hess added that her mother was happy to see the changes currently under way at the site, where experienced restaurateurs Brian and Teresa Mullins are redeveloping the marina and restaurant and planning to add a few houses, as well.

“I’m glad to see the new owners doing something,” Hess said, adding that she and her mother had a picnic there last September, and her mother was pleased. “The view is the same.”

A memorial service for Frazier will be held this Friday at 1 p.m. at H.D. Oliver Funeral Home, 2002 Laskin Road, Virginia Beach.