City of Toronto tells Captain John to ship out
Toronto city council says "Captain John" Letnik must abandon ship over failure to pay more than a million dollars in back taxes, fees and other arrears.
City council voted to turf Letnik, whose real name is Ivan, from the MS Jadran and seize the vessel in an attempt to claw back some of what it is owed. Letnik said in a letter to city council that he is a tenant in his cabin aboard the Jadran and claims a legal entitlement to remain at the foot of Yonge Street.
He says the city has put off potential buyers by failing to offer an alternative location and calls the legal action a waste of tax dollars. The boat's water supply was disconnected in June 2012 and the restaurant closed down as a result.
Captain John's has been a fixture on the Toronto waterfront for almost 40 years. The original floating restaurant, operated out of the SS Normac, was wrecked in a collision with the city-owned ferry Trillium in 1981. Metro Toronto paid a settlement when Letnik sued but structural problems on the nearly 80-year-old ship were also blamed for its partial sinking.
The MS Jadran - a 300-foot, five-deck former Yugoslav cruiser that once operated in the Black, Adriatic, and Aegean seas - has hosted John Letnik's seafood restaurant ever since.
In 2002, Letnik sought bankruptcy protection following years of financial troubles. Since then, the ship, which is permanently moored, has accrued $1,047,889.79 in unpaid property taxes and slippage fees, making it the 11th worst offender in the city.
In his letter, Letnik says the vessel has no scrap value due to asbestos lining its pipes.
In September, the government management committee recommended evicting Letnik and council backed that decision today. A lengthy legal process is expected.
A motion to consider a plaque commemorating Captain John's by councillor Joe Mihevc, who worked on the ship, passed. Will you miss the restaurant when it's gone?
Chris Bateman is a staff writer at blogTO. Follow him on Twitter at @chrisbateman.