Exclusive photos: The Mai-Kai through the eyes of The Hukilau villagers

Among the most loyal followers of The Mai-Kai are the thousands of guests who flock to Fort Lauderdale for The Hukilau, an annual celebration of Polynesian Pop culture that established a foothold in the historic restaurant in 2003 and remains inextricably linked.

During it's closure, The Mai-Kai has been hosting guests for cocktails and activities in the porte-cochère, under the thatched entrance area. (Mai-Kai photo)
During it’s closure, The Mai-Kai has been hosting guests for cocktails and activities in the porte-cochère, under the thatched entrance area. (Mai-Kai photo)

The recent announcement of The Mai-Kai’s planned refurbishment and reopening sent joyous shockwaves throughout the Tiki community, but especially among The Hukilau’s longtime “villagers,” as they’re known. The 2020 event was canceled due to the pandemic, but we were able to get a taste of The Mai-Kai at The Hukilau in September 2021 during a special event in the porte-cochère. It was comforting to sip authentic cocktails and enjoy the musicians performing outside the front entrance, but many still longed to be inside.

When it was announced during the event that a deal had been struck and The Mai-Kai would be reopening, it made the experience even sweeter. Full details were released the following week (see story below), and the rest is history.

The Mai-Kai fans rejoice as new partnership paves way for reopening
RELATED COVERAGE: The Mai-Kai fans rejoice as new partnership paves way for reopening

While the timeline is not clear on a reopening date, hopes are running high that the 20th anniversary of The Hukilau in 2022 will indeed include at least a partial return to indoor activities. The synergy is guaranteed to continue with the news that one of the investors in the new ownership team is The Hukilau’s head honcho, Richard Oneslager.

Beyond taking in all the activities – from the dinner show featuring the Polynesian Islander Revue to live bands in The Molokai bar – a ritual for many villagers during The Hukilau includes walking the sacred grounds and taking photos of their beloved Mai-Kai.

Below you’ll find a collection of those photos, shared with The Atomic Grog over the years. Many are appearing on the blog for the first time. Let’s enjoy the eye candy and look forward to once again returning in person for the grand reopening.

PHOTOS: The Mai-Kai during The Hukilau

June 2019: Photos by Jim Neumayer
The Mai-Kai during The Hukilau 2019

June 2019: Photos by Jim Neumayer
The Mai-Kai during The Hukilau 2019
* More photos of the Polynesian Islander Revue by Jim Neumayer

June 2019: Photos by Rich Roach
The Mai-Kai during The Hukilau 2019

June 2018: Photos by Jeanne Vidrine
The Mai-Kai during The Hukilau 2018

June 2018: Photos by Joanne Galka (left) and Michael Blain Masterson
The Mai-Kai during The Hukilau 2018

June 2018: Photos by Hukilau Mike
The Mai-Kai during The Hukilau 2018

June 2018: Photo by Jim Neumayer
The Mai-Kai during The Hukilau 2018

June 2018: Photo by Jim Neumayer
The Mai-Kai during The Hukilau 2018

June 2018: Photo by Jim Neumayer
The Mai-Kai during The Hukilau 2018

June 2018: Photos by Jim Neumayer
The Mai-Kai during The Hukilau 2018

June 2018: Photos by Jim Neumayer
The Mai-Kai during The Hukilau 2016

June 2017: Photos by Hukilau Mike
The Mai-Kai during The Hukilau 2017

June 2017: Photos by Hukilau Mike
The Mai-Kai during The Hukilau 2017

June 2016: Photos by Baron Elam
The Mai-Kai during The Hukilau 2016

June 2016: Photos by Karen Schell
The Mai-Kai during The Hukilau 2016

June 2016: Photos by Kevin Upthegrove
The Mai-Kai during The Hukilau 2016

June 2016: Photos by Kevin Upthegrove
The Mai-Kai during The Hukilau 2016

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MORE PHOTOS AND TRIBUTES

Mai-Kai: History and Mystery of the Iconic Tiki Restaurant
Mai-Kai: History and Mystery of the Iconic Tiki Restaurant

Get the definitive book on the historic Tiki temple by Tim “Swanky” Glazner, check out the website and social media pages.

Save the Mai-Kai Facebook group
Fan groups on Facebook
Friends of The Mai-Kai | Save the Mai-Kai | We Love the Mai Kai

The Mai-Kai during The Hukilau 2016
The Hukilau: Past Atomic Grog coverage
* The Hukilau 2021: Daily recap, photos and video
*
The Hukilau 2020: Virtual events honor 19th annual Tiki weekender, help those in need
* Photos: 10 highlights from The Hukilau 2019 in Fort Lauderdale
*
2019: Photos and video from social media
* 2018 social media recap | More highlights
* 2017 daily recaps, news, photos and video | More highlights
* More recaps: 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2002-2008

The Mai-Kai official sites and social media
The Mai-Kai official sites and social media
* MaiKai.com | MaiKaiTradingPost.com
* Facebook | Twitter
* Instagram: Restaurant | The Molokai bar | Trading Post

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SPECIAL FEATURE

Okole Maluna Society: The Mai-Kai Cocktail Guide
Okole Maluna Society: The Mai-Kai Cocktail Guide

Hurricane Hayward reviews and rates the historic restaurant’s current and past tropical drinks, plus reveals a treasure trove of ancestor and exclusive tribute recipes.

PAST ATOMIC GROG COVERAGE

Photos: The Mai-Kai Tiki Marketplace in Fort Lauderdale, July 2021
Tiki Marketplace offers a taste of The Mai-Kai
The July 18 event featured vintage art and collectibles, food trucks, plus authentic Mai-Kai cocktails and entertainment.

The Mai-Kai hosts first Tiki Marketplace featuring vendors, entertainers, cocktails, rum tasting and more
The Mai-Kai hosts first Tiki Marketplace featuring vendors, entertainers, cocktails, rum tasting and more

The historic restaurant may be closed for repairs, but a new event took advantage of the large parking lot for a safe and fun-filled day featuring the generous spirit of ‘ohana.

Thousands of fans unite to show support for The Mai-Kai during closing
Thousands of fans unite to show support for The Mai-Kai during closing

More than 10,000 have signed a petition and thousands are flooding social media channels as the historic restaurant plans events, take-home cocktails while potential partners/owners are sought.

The Mai-Kai celebrates 64th anniversary under the moon as challenges loom
The Mai-Kai celebrates 64th anniversary as extent of flooding damage, closing detailed
* Fund raisers, online sales aid The Mai-Kai during closure
* The Mai-Kai celebrates Hulaween 2020 with drive-in movie party
* The Mai-Kai re-releases signature rum, glassware, spirits menu
* Cocktail quarts join gallons as The Mai-Kai expands takeout menu

Mai-Kai history
* The Mai-Kai is here to stay: 10 reasons why we love the historic restaurant
* New giant carved Tiki added to outdoor garden
* ‘King Kai’ leads procession of new Tikis into The Mai-Kai
* Mai-Kai tropical drink family tree
* Heeeeeeere’s the rich history and lost stories of The Mai-Kai
* Tour of The Mai-Kai’s mysterious bars and kitchen (with photos)
* Interview with General Manager Kern Mattei

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