The history of Captain John’s seafood restaurant in Toronto

The M. V. Jadran, where Captain John’s Seafood Cafe was situated, occupied a prime place on Toronto’s waterfront for lots of decades.

When the business enterprise venture unsuccessful, there was a research to uncover a new operator, but it was unsuccessful due to the taxes owed and the leasing complications imposed by the town.

Soon after the water source to the ship was terminated, the restaurant shut, and in the ensuing a long time it became an vacant rusting hulk.

I retained hoping that a person would eventually buy the ship and restore it, as acquiring a floating restaurant on the city’s shoreline was a worthwhile asset for equally Torontonians and visitors. Nonetheless, it was not to be.

The indicator for Captain John’s in 2010. Picture by Matthew Lazarini.

It was John Lenik who brought the M. V. Jadran to Toronto. Letnik escaped Communist Yugoslavia when he was 15 decades aged, arriving in Canada in 1957.

He labored really hard and eventually opened a restaurant named “Pop-In” at Dundas and McCaul Streets. Thanks to his results, he ultimately procured the making wherever the eatery was situated.

On a journey to Yugoslavia to visit his household, he sailed from New York aboard the S.S. France. On this trip, he fell in really like with eating on the superior seas and dreamt of opening a floating cafe in Toronto.

On his return to Toronto, next a two-calendar year search, in 1969 Letnik purchased the M.V. Normac. It was a small vessel, released in 1902 in Port Huron, Michigan. It had been used for many functions, like a Detroit fireplace boat and also a Tobermory ferry.

Letnik sailed it to Toronto below its own steam and moored it at the foot of Yonge Avenue (1 Queens Quay). He opened his cafe aboard it in August 1970. Its hull was painted flaming red and the superstructure was white.

captain johns toronto

Captain John’s as it looked in the 1970s. Photograph by Doug Taylor.

It was an appealing sight, moored along with Queens Quay, in a decade when the city’s waterfront was generally industrial. The Normac was just one of the couple indicators of lifetime at night in an location that in any other case was desolate.

I keep fond reminiscences of the vessel, as in the 1970s, in the course of the summer time months, Capt. John’s served an all-you-can-take in lobster buffet on the major deck of the Normac. Lobster—ice cold beer—and a harbour view—heaven!

Letnik expanded his small business when he ordered the MV (Service provider Vessel) Jadran in 1975. The ship had been launched in 1957 in Pula, Yugoslavia (now Croatia).

As a luxury cruise ship, it sailed the Mediterranean Sea, docking at ports together the Aegean and Adriatic Seas, as effectively as the Black Sea. Immediately after Letnik turned its proprietor, he embarked on a 16-day journey to sail it from Yugoslavia to Toronto.

Mooring it on Queens Quay, on the port aspect of the Normac, he commenced enterprise in Could 1976. As perfectly as a public cafe, the ship offered services for private events, weddings, banquets and bar mitzvahs.

In 1981, the Normac was rammed by the Toronto Ferry the Trillium, when it dropped ability. The hull of the Normac was punctured down below the h2o line. The incident occurred when the ship was fully occupied by diners, but no a person was wounded.

captain johns

The sinking of Captain John’s.

A patch was placed more than the gap, but it did not seal the opening correctly and a week later on the boat sank. The insurance policies funds was insufficient to re-float and restore the vessel, so Letnik was forced to sell it.

captain johns toronto

Captain John’s immediately after it shut and looking past its prime. Photo by Matt Forsythe.

It was towed to Cleveland, Ohio, where as soon as additional it turned a seafood cafe named Captain John’s. In 1995, it was taken to Port Dalhousie, Ontario, and renamed The Riverboat. Later, it was referred to as Tokyo Joe’s, but on December 28, 2011 it was gutted by fire.

captain johns toronto

John Lenik on the day Captain John’s was towed from the Toronto Harbour. Photograph by Matt Forsythe.

With the loss of the Normac, Capt. John expected extra room. He opened the floor above the main deck of the Jadran to diners, and the second-ground deck, named the Dubrovnik Place, was utilized for much larger functions.

On the other hand, in the yr in advance, enterprise deteriorated, and debts improved thanks to his battles with the metropolis more than taxes. Finally, the ship’s h2o supply was slice. The again taxes and utility expenses were being stated to be about $740,000 and without having h2o, Capt. John’s Cafe shut.

captain johns toronto

Captain John’s beeing towed absent from the Toronto Harbour. Photograph by Matt Forsythe.

In May 2015, the saga of the Jadran ended when it was towed from the harbour and taken to a maritime scrapyard in Port Colborne.

Getting rid of the ship was a wonderful reduction to the town of Toronto.

Doug Taylor was a trainer, historian, creator and artist who wrote thoroughly about Toronto background on tayloronhistory.com. This article to start with appeared on his web-site on Oct 8, 2015 and has been republished here with the permission of his estate. The posting has been modified somewhat.

Theresa D. Begay

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