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.

7 Responses to The Captain’s Table

  • Mardi Dauphine says:

    This commentary on the Captain’s Table is a sad reflection on what was once a great place to dine and entertain friends.

    My first experience there was to enjoy lunches with my step-dad, Don Jensen. He was the Commander of the local power squadron at the time and the members met at the Captain’s Table. This was in the late fifties.

    During my visits I would always order the cold prime rib plate and the owner would bring it out to me personally. If my memory serves me, the owner’s name was Cal.

    Thanks for the website.

    Mardi Dauphine

  • Jeffrey Tohl says:

    Just to set the record straight, my father owned The Captain’s Table on Restaurant Row. His name is Bernard. Always a consummate host I am sure he would have been happy to serve you. He also operated Alan Hale’s Lobster Barrel as well. The Skipper enjoyed his involvement with the restaurant as host during the restaurant’s run. I think in general, a decline began with “continental cuisine” (traditional dinner houses,etc) with the evolution of MaMaison, Spago, pacific fusion and the celebrity chef. Restaurant Row had a long and nostalgic history as Restaurant Row with a diversity of restaurants and clubs. It was the happening place of it’s time. It was the place to go for dark interiors, classic bars, dark mahogany Naugahyde booths, captains and waiters suited up and food prepared table side. Everyone seems to have an early memory of a life event being celebrated at the Captain’s Table. Enjoy and Bon appetite!

  • Jeffrey Tohl says:

    ps: the article’s author is incorrect. The building he described as painted in psychedelic colors was the adjacent Metropolis which was originally a club covered by a mural by the LA Art Squad. During the 70’s, the club, next to The Captain’s Table, was graffiti’d and eventually torn down and replaced by Loehmans. The Captain’s Table fell victim to the times and was bull-dozed in a day. The Fish Shanty likewise closed and was replaced with the current ultra high-end apartment building with Trader Joe’s. Real estate always trumps food.

  • Mark Kraus says:

    Went with parents in 1960. I leRned what Lobster Tail was that night and loved it. And it was served by a very elegant waiter who reminded me of a perfect Mr French from “Family Affair.”

  • Sally Willingham says:

    I have an ashtray from The Captain’s Table restaurant in Los Angeles. I’m selling it on ebay and thought you might like a picture for you blog?
    Sally/Users/robertwillingham/Music/Pictures/Pictures/captains table .jpg

  • Scott Linet says:

    As a young teen I was thrilled to shake hands with Alan Hale. The Bouillabaisse was the best I ever had. It was more than just a restaurant to me. It is a wonderful memory. Thank you Allan. Rest in peace.

  • Julie Scarine says:

    My father, Joe Kassai, worked as a waiter at The Captain’s Table from the mid 1950’s until 1978 when he retired. He earned a decent living and entertained me as a child with stories of the different celebrities who came there to dine (Elizabeth Montgomery, Dean Martin and Michael Landon were regulars); he even secured an autograph for me on a restaurant napkin from Mr. Landon when I was about 13. I can’t comment on the food; we couldn’t afford to eat there. But they treated my father (who passed in 1982) well during his time as an employee of this “icon” of Old Restaurant Row ” in L.A….

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