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Captain John's Harbour Boat Restaurant & Banquet Facilities on Queens Quay in TorontoJENNIFER ROBERTS

Captain John's deserves some sympathy. Like a starlet fading into obscurity, the floating restaurant has become a forgotten landmark.

The tourist destination, housed in a former cruise ship, welcomes visitors at the foot of Yonge Street, but most well-heeled Torontonians haven't trotted up its planks in years. After nearly four decades, Captain John's is for sale. She can be yours for $1.5-million.

Like Sunset Boulevard 's Norma Desmond, this former grande dame of the Great Lakes is a fragile, complicated beast. In 1981, the original boat housing the restaurant sank two weeks after being hit by a Toronto ferry. In the late nineties, the ship co-hosted annual free, lavish lunches for the poor. In 2002, the restaurant was granted bankruptcy protection, allowing it to continue serving lobster dinners despite a post-Sept. 11 dip in business. Seafood lovers with a penchant for nautical kitsch rejoiced.

Then came an arguably decisive battle over taxes. By 2007, the ship's property taxes had reached $36,000.

A lawyer for "Captain John" Letnik, the boat's owner, argued the ship wasn't a structure and therefore shouldn't be taxed. This March, a panel of three judges ruled that the boat, moored since 1975, could be levied.

With Captain John's for sale, Globe T.O. asked a motley crew of Torontonians how the ship - like a screen siren - could launch her comeback.

"We would make the ship into a dinner and show experience called The Love Boat. The decor would be fabulous old-school cruise ship - over-the-top brassy portholes, thick ropes and large-scale anchors - and the waitstaff would be dressed as characters from the famous seventies TV show. Wouldn't that be a gas? Julie, your cruise director, would be the mâitre d'." - Steven Sabados, co-host of CBC's Steven and Chris.

"It would be called the Mariner Miller - a nod to Mayor Miller. It would grow its own green roof. There could be a farmers' market and a fish market. Because we're trying to bring back the lake, there would be this whole focus on local, sustainable fishing. You could have a bar there called the Clean Water Bar. It would be all Toronto tap water, but it could be flavoured. It should have a speakeasy called the Dirty Water and it opens after the farmers' market shuts down. So the boat would be used during the day and at night. And you could get married in the Dirty Water Bar or the Clean Water Bar." - Christina Zeidler, president, Gladstone Hotel

"Perhaps Waterfront Toronto could think of it as something they might want to use for an orientation centre for the waterfront. It would talk about the waterfront's past, present and future." - David Crombie, former mayor, former federal cabinet minister

"I would do a cabaret like in Paris. Think of Folies Bergère. It would be a Cirque du Soleil/cabaret experience. Some nights I would do a nice supper club....It's like eating dinner in the Titanic. Then, after a certain hour, it would turn into a dance club. You would have to gut the interior, but with a top designer you can do something really sexy." - Chef Marc Thuet of Conviction, Atelier Thuet and Petite Thuet

"You could turn Captain John's into an adult playground. Keep the name and the nautical theme. Events could include shuffleboard competitions, tango lessons and night-time summer screenings of movies connected to water and sea life. Local artists could thematically decorate private sleeping cabins to rent out for overnight stays. You could suntan and drink martinis on the upper deck and the side of the ship could be converted into a climbing wall. If you fall off, you simply plunge into Lake Ontario." - Sook-Yin Lee, actor, host of CBC's Definitely Not the Opera

"It would be fun to sink it and create a dive site to drive a new kind of tourism." - Chef Mark McEwan, host of the Food Network's The Heat and owner of Bymark.

Special to The Globe and Mail