The Captain’s Table

Located at the end of Restaurant Row — on La Cienega near 3rd Street — The Captain’s Table had a glorious history as one of the city’s best places to eat fish. Alas, by the time I dined there in the early seventies, it had become a rather mediocre and overpriced establishment that sold you a lobster with the same grandeur and price tag of Tiffany’s delivering your new diamond tiara. The decor had that “men’s club” feel with a maritime flavor and chairs that had uneven legs so they made you seasick. I don’t think that was deliberate.

Apparently, competition did the place in. It was not far from the Smith Brothers’ Fish Shanty, which was a much better seafood restaurant, and it was a few blocks from Alan Hale’s Lobster Barrel. Some people apparently got confused and went to The Captain’s Table thinking they were going to get to meet the Skipper. The last year or so of its existence, I lived one block from the place and never ventured in. My friends and I would walk right past it to get to the Fish Shanty.

The main thing I recall about it is that at some point in the mid-seventies, a group of local Star Trek fans decided they wanted to meet William Shatner and take him to dinner. The Captain’s Table seemed like the appropriate place to sup with Captain Kirk so they all pledged the necessary funds and bombarded Shatner — at every conceivable address — with invites to dine there with them. For months, they could get no response and the invitations grew ever more militant. I knew one of the Trekkers involved in the plan and she was beginning to lose her love for Mr. Shatner due to him not extending them even the courtesy of a reply.

Finally, as the story was told to me, some publicist for the star called the ringleader and said, in effect, “Knock it off with all these invitations or we’ll call the police and report you all as stalkers. Shatner’s not going to dine with you anywhere and if he did, he especially wouldn’t eat at The Captain’s Table. He hates that restaurant and people are always trying to drag him to it.” Two days after I heard this, I noticed The Captain’s Table was out of business and the building was being sprayed with psychedelic colors, long after they were fashionable, and transformed into a discotheque, long after anyone was going to them. It was like the place was so ashamed at being rejected by William Shatner that it had turned to drugs.

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