Captain's Table Closing Is End Of Era

Ivar's Captain's Table restaurant, once a Seattle institution but more recently an anachronism with a fading identity and botched view, is closing this weekend. Scott Kingdon and Jim Moon, two of the managing partners of Ivar's Inc., were trying to "keep clam" yesterday as they talked about closing the one-time flagship of the Ivar's chain and the personal favorite of the legendary founder, the late Ivar Haglund. Kingdon said it was a difficult and emotional decision to close the Captain's Table. But the company doesn't own the property at 333 Elliott Ave. W., the restaurant's location since 1965, he said. And faced with the cost of making expensive structural improvements to the building or putting the money into a new, waterfront location in Mukilteo, he determined it was best to move. "I think it's the right business decision, but sentimentally, it's very tough," he said. After 26 years, tomorrow is the restaurant's last day in business. The decision doesn't affect Ivar's Acres of Clams on the downtown waterfront or any of the growing army of Ivar's fast-food outlets around the state. At one time the Captain's Table was one of Seattle's classiest and busiest eateries. It was the kind of place you took friends and relatives visiting from out of town and, if you were smart, you made reservations a week in advance. For a while, it also was one of the few good seafood restaurants in the city. But in the mid-1970s, during a mini-boom in the restaurant business, Ivar found it difficult to keep the high-class white-tablecloth atmosphere and keep prices competitive at the same time. So the Captain's Table changed a bit, maintaining essentially the same menu but trying to cater more to families. The result, Kingdon said, was that the restaurant with the great view of Elliott Bay began losing its identity. To many, it seemed a throwback to an earlier decade. Meanwhile, it also was losing its view. Burlington Northern tracks always ran between the Captain's Table and the water, but there never had been much train traffic until about 10 years ago. Now, trains often stop right in front of the restaurant. Still, longtime diners were stopping by yesterday to wish Kingdon and Moon well and to have one last bowl of chowder. And the owners were looking forward to opening the new Ivar's Mukilteo Landing restaurant, probably in March. Like Haglund's vision of the Captain's Table 26 years ago, it will be one of the area's premiere seafood restaurants, with a beautiful view of the water. And no trains.