UPDATES: Latest news on The Mai-Kai renovations and reopening in 2022

Updated Sept. 21, 2022

There was much rejoicing after the announcement in September 2021 that after being closed for nearly a year, The Mai-Kai in Fort Lauderdale would reopen in 2022 under a new ownership team that will pump millions of dollars into an extensive refurbishment and renovations. A devastating roof collapse in the kitchen in October 2020 had shut down indoor service indefinitely. Click here for our full story on the announcement and the ownership transition.

Now, as we move forward in 2022, fans and supporters are eager to learn details on the plans and progress. While we follow The Mai-Kai’s social media pages for updates, we’ll keep a running list of news on this page for easy reference. Please bookmark and check back for the latest info on the refurbishment of the historic Polynesian restaurant.

The Mai-Kai official sites and social media
MaiKai.com | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

LATEST UPDATES

SEPT. 21 – The Mai-Kai continues takeout cocktails through end of 2022

The Mai-Kai cocktails to go

While we await the completion of renovations and the grand reopening, The Mai-Kai’s famous tropical cocktails are available for pick-up on multiple dates through the end of 2022. You can also pick up bottles of the restaurant’s signature rum. The drink menu includes:

* Barrel O’ Rum (gallon $95, quart $30)
* Mai Tai (gallon $142, quart $40)
* Jet Pilot (gallon $156, quart $44)
* Black Magic (gallon $95, quart $30)
* The Real McCoy 12-year-old Distillers Proof Mai-Kai Blend ($85.60 for a 750 ML bottle)

Prices include tax. Email pia@maikai.com or call 954-646-8975 to place your order.

Fall and winter cocktail pickup dates
* Friday, Sept. 30 (4-6 p.m.) and Saturday, Oct. 1 (10 a.m.-noon).
* Friday, Oct. 28 and Saturday, Oct. 29.
* Tuesday, Nov. 22 and Wednesday, Nov. 23.
* Friday, Dec. 9 and Saturday, Dec. 10.
* Friday, Dec. 22 and Saturday, Dec. 23.

The Mai-Kai Cocktail Guide: Check out our cocktail reviews and updates

*********************

SEPT. 19 – Roofs readied for new thatch, vintage matting replaced, special guest artist drops by

There was plenty of news to report from The Mai-Kai last week on several fronts as the refurbishment project moved along at a steady pace …

The framing on the roofs over the back area at The Mai-Kai is nearing completion. Artificial thatching will be securely installed over the eucalyptus poles. (Photos by Hurricane Hayward, Sept. 14, 2022)
The framing on the roofs over the back area at The Mai-Kai is nearing completion. Artificial thatching will be securely installed over the eucalyptus poles. (Photos by Hurricane Hayward, Sept. 14, 2022)

The roof re-thatching project led by South Florida’s Tiki King was in the final stage of framing, both in the entrance porte-cochère and on the peaked roofs above the Tahiti dining room south of the main A-frame.

The next step will be installing new artificial thatching, as detailed in the Sept. 12 update below. The Tahiti roof will probably be done first, followed by the porte-cochère, manager Kern Mattei said. Tentative plans call for thatch to eventually be added in some form to the main A-frame, he said.

At left, creative director "Typhoon Tommy" Allsmiller shows how new matting installed in the New Guinea dining room was carefully treated to make it look aged. At right, the decayed matting that was removed can be seen beneath the new matting as well as various treatment tests. (Photos by Hurricane Hayward, Sept. 14, 2022)
At left, creative director “Typhoon Tommy” Allsmiller shows how new matting installed in the New Guinea dining room was carefully treated to make it look aged. At right, the decayed matting that was removed can be seen beneath the new matting as well as various treatment tests. (Photos by Hurricane Hayward, Sept. 14, 2022)

While not as visible to passersby, some important work was also going on inside The Mai-Kai. And, for the first time since work commenced on the roof and electrical system, there was electricity powering lights and work fans throughout the building. While the full job was not yet complete, I was told that the electricians had finished a great deal of their infrastructure work.

In the New Guinea dining room, creative director “Typhoon Tommy” Allsmiller showed off the work he and the crew are doing on restoring the decor to its original glory. Sometimes, simply installing new materials is not enough, no matter how authentic they may be.

The seagrass matting that had to removed from the walls was in terrible shape, but it had a certain look that needed to be maintained. In order to give the dining room, one of the originals from 1956, that same vintage feel the new matting was treated to make it look decades older.

Typhoon Tommy (left) welcomes the artist Mcbiff to The Mai-Kai while work continues on the roof over the porte-cochère. (Photos by Hurricane Hayward, Sept. 14, 2022)
Typhoon Tommy (left) welcomes the artist Mcbiff to The Mai-Kai while work continues on the roof over the porte-cochère. (Photos by Hurricane Hayward, Sept. 14, 2022)

Turning on the juice also allowed Allsmiller to start working in earnest on installing new LED lighting in The Molokai bar. It will be exciting to see the lounge when it’s fully restored to its 1970s glory, the work of Mutiny on the Bounty set designers once again fully on display.

If you follow Allsmiller on Instagram, you may have seen a photo he posted last week of a crew doing some woodwork in the porte-cochère. They were putting the finishing touches on one of those Molokai lighting fixtures.

But look closely and take note of one of the crew members: California-based fine artist Mcbiff. Known for his colorful, mid-century inspired work for Disney, he’s also a popular presence in the Tiki art community. But Mcbiff was at The Mai-Kai to do more than just wield a hammer or saw.

Mcbiff (aka David McNeley) was in town to discuss a pending relationship to create a line of exclusive artwork and merchandise for The Mai-Kai. It’s not a done deal yet, but some great prototype artwork was shared, and all signs point toward some cool limited-edition, co-branded merch in time for the reopening.

A look back at the signature mugs for sale in The Mai-Kai's gift shop in May 2019. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)
A look back at the signature mugs for sale in The Mai-Kai’s gift shop in May 2019. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)

Also in time for the reopening, expect a great lineup of new limited-edition Tiki mugs from Tiki Farm to be made available for purchase. The Mai-Kai has been working with Tiki Farm founder Holden Westland for months on multiple new mugs from some top artists and designers. Some already have prototypes sculpted in clay. We hope to have more info on these mugs in the coming weeks and months.

There will be around a half-dozen of these new offerings, in addition to all the distinctive mugs The Mai-Kai has used to serve some of its most iconic cocktails. Mattei said guests can expect the return of the full lineup of classics: Barrel O’ Rum, Mara-Amu, Shrunken Skull, Kona Coffee Grog, Hot Buttered Rum, and (of course) the Mystery Drink.

Click on the links above for some drink recipes to help get you ready for the reopening. Okole maluna!

*********************

SEPT. 12 – Roof work advances, new thatching added to porte-cochère

Guests stopping by The Mai-Kai before Labor Day to pick up their quarts and gallons of takeout cocktails might have noticed some work going on around the entrance to the historic building as repairs and refurbishments pick up steam.

If you dropped by The Mai-Kai for takeout cocktails before Labor Day, you caught a glimpse of the refurbishment of the porte-cochère. Longtime Fraternal Order of Moai member Don Rudawsky is happy to pick up his gallon to go from manager Kern Mattei. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward, Sept. 2, 2022)
If you dropped by The Mai-Kai for takeout cocktails before Labor Day, you caught a glimpse of the refurbishment of the porte-cochère. Longtime Fraternal Order of Moai member Don Rudawsky is happy to pick up his gallon to go from manager Kern Mattei. (Photos by Hurricane Hayward, Sept. 2, 2022)

While grabbing my holiday fortifications last Friday (Sept. 2), I got a chance to chat with public relations director Pia Dahlquist and manager Kern Mattei. While no new dates have been announced, Dahlquist promised more opportunities to order signature tropical drinks in the coming weeks.

Mattei was gracious enough to give me a tour of some of the latest updates to the property. Here’s the rundown …

With the structural portion of the roof work complete, plans have moved on to the finishing touches on some of The Mai-Kai’s most iconic features.

Work on The Mai-Kai's porte-cochère began in late August. (Photos by Tommy Allsmiller)
Work on The Mai-Kai’s porte-cochère began in late August. (Photos by Tommy Allsmiller)

Most noticeable is the re-thatching of the covering over the driveway that leads to the main entrance, aka the porte-cochère. In the severe South Florida environment, this is a regular maintenance project. But the last full thatch replacement this extensive was in 2005, Mattei said.

This repair job is even more intensive than usual. The structure is being shored up to accommodate the new artificial thatching being installed by South Florida’s Tiki King. The artificial thatch is more expensive but will last three times longer, Mattei said.

The new thatching is made of a synthetic material designed to withstand South Florida’s extreme weather conditions. It’s also fire resistant.
* Click here to see examples of Tiki King’s work

Workers remove the old thatching from The Mai-Kai's porte-cochère in late August. (Photo by Tommy Allsmiller)
Workers remove the old thatching from The Mai-Kai’s porte-cochère in late August. (Photo by Tommy Allsmiller)

While the thatch itself is artificial, the support structure is being shored up with new wood support beams and poles made of eucalyptus, a sturdy hardwood. All rotted wood is being replaced. It’s possible the entire structure will be rebuilt.

The work will take at least several more weeks to complete since much of the material is imported, according to the project manager on site, James of Tiki King. On most days, there are four to six people working on the thatching.

When Tiki King is done with the basic structure, creative director “Typhoon Tommy” Allsmiller will likely add some embellishments underneath, Mattei said.

As of Sept. 2, all of the thatch had been removed from The Mai-Kai's porte-cochère in preparation for the structure to be reinforced and readied for the installation of new materials. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)
As of Sept. 2, all of the thatch had been removed from The Mai-Kai’s porte-cochère in preparation for the structure to be reinforced and readied for the installation of new materials. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)

A similar thatching is also being installed on the roof over the Tahiti dining room, the back area that faces Federal Highway and the outdoor garden. You can get a view of this work from the sidewalk at the south end of the property. We also got a view from inside the back Tiki garden.

The work was in its early stages when we arrived, but James explained how Tiki King planned to add the crisscross pattern of eucalyptus poles, which would be covered with thatching.

The thatching project will be ongoing through the month of September, so be sure to check it out if you drive by. We’ll also be posting updates here was the work progresses.

The photos at left, seen in the back offices at The Mai-Kai, chart the progress of the roof work on the Tahiti Room. At right is a similar view on Sept. 2 from the the walkway in the Tiki garden. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)
The photos at left, seen in the back offices at The Mai-Kai, chart the progress of the roof work on the Tahiti Room. At right is a similar view on Sept. 2 from the the walkway in the Tiki garden. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)

One of the major planned projects – the removal of the former Bora Bora Room and creation of a new entranceway – is still on hold awaiting approval from the city of Oakland Park. The Mai-Kai’s status as a historic property, both locally and nationally, requires that such projects receive extensive due diligence. We hope to have news on this portion of the project in the near future.

Alert guests driving past the Bora Bora building to pick up their takeout cocktails may have noticed one other change last week. One of the three carved Tiki idols that have stood to the north of the driveway by the porte-cochère since 2016 was mysteriously missing in action.

There is nothing to fear, however. The creation of local artist Tom Fowner – a Tangaroa-style Tiki carved as an homage to a vintage Mai-Kai decanter – is being stored safely inside the building.

While work is ongoing on the thatch on The Mai-Kai's porte-cochère, one of the three Tikis that greet guests has been removed for repairs. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward, Sept. 2, 2022)
While work is ongoing on the thatch on The Mai-Kai’s porte-cochère, one of the three Tikis that greet guests has been removed for repairs. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward, Sept. 2, 2022)

Sitting out in the stormy Fort Lauderdale weather had caused the Central Florida Cypress log to sustain a substantial amount of rot. If repair is not feasible, Fowner has said he’ll carve a sturdier replacement. The other two carvings, by fellow Florida artists Will Anders and Jeff Chouinard, show no similar signs of rot.
* Past coverage: ‘King Kai’ leads procession of new Tikis into The Mai-Kai

Meanwhile, the main A-frame, which soars above the restaurant and dates back to its 1956 opening, is receiving layers of protective sealant.

Plans are still in flux, but it’s expected that at least a portion of the structure will be covered in thatch. It will likely be a weatherproof, highly durable thatching similar to what’s currently being installed on the porte-cochère and Tahiti dining room roofs.

When The Mai-Kai opened, only the center A-frame portion of the building existed and capacity was a mere 200 people. The front of the peaked roof contained only screening, meaning the dining room was “open air.” This allowed for lush gardens to grow behind what is now the stage for the dinner show. That’s why this seating area is still referred to as the “garden.”

This also gave guests a fully immersive South Seas tropical experience. Air conditioning was featured in the adjoining dining rooms for those with more refined tastes. But eventually, glass replaced the screens and the entire showroom was climate controlled. Later, the glass was covered to give the space it’s distinctive dark and mysterious feel with the hundreds of lights dotting the ceiling.

At left is a view of the roof work on the Tahiti dining room from Federal Highway. At right, you can see The Mai-Kai's iconic A-frame with the latest coating of sealant. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward, Sept. 2, 2022)
At left is a view of the roof work on the Tahiti dining room from Federal Highway. At right, you can see The Mai-Kai’s iconic A-frame with the latest coating of sealant. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward, Sept. 2, 2022)

While the roof work proceeds outside, electricians are still in the midst of extensive work modernizing the 65-year-old venue’s infrastructure. This project has kept power (and air conditioning) turned off to much of the building, making the work of designer “Typhoon Tommy” Allsmiller even more challenging.

But Allsmiller is moving forward full-throttle with a long list of projects he shared on Instagram. His to-do list includes work in The Molokai bar, the garden and six surrounding dining rooms, the gift shop, bathrooms, A-frame, and more. This is before work even begins on the new event space he designed. The latter will be the last piece to be added, most likely in mid-2023.

When I last heard from Allsmiller, he was taking down all the old seagrass matting and putting up fresh materials in the New Guinea dining room. Located to the left of the showroom stage, this is one of the oldest dining rooms in the restaurant and one of the most in need of TLC.

Follow Typhoon Tommy on his Instagram page for periodic updates. We’ll also be sharing some exclusive insights on his work here in future reports.

*********************

AUG. 10 – Typhoon Tommy hard at work on interior restoration

A month after starting work on the detailed restoration of The Mai-Kai’s historic bar and dining rooms, “Typhoon Tommy” Allsmiller is deeply immersed in this job unlike any other.

Allsmiller, who formerly worked with Disney Imagineering and for Universal Creative, is well-versed in taking materials for new builds and treating them to look worn and aged. But The Mai-Kai presents a special challenge: Restoring 50- to 60-year-old wall decor to a very specific vintage.

Fans of The Mai-Kai are fixated on these details, so he knows the responsibility he carries. When replacements are needed, he’s going to great lengths to make sure the exact materials are used. Check out this update he posted on Instagram for an example:

We dropped in on The Mai-Kai’s creative director recently and were grateful to receive a guided tour of his current workplace. Below are some takeaways from our sneak peek at the massive job.

* With a spanking new roof completed and water leaks no longer an issue, crews of workers have turned their attention to a complete rebuild of the fire sprinkler system. At the same time, electricians are in the midst of a huge rewiring job, updating the sprawling restaurant’s outdated electrical infrastructure. When all of these key safety features are complete, The Mai-Kai will have a rock-solid foundation to move forward with the more cosmetic refurbishments. Until the electrical work is done, the AC is not yet functional. So Allsmiller has Florida’s soaring summer heat to contend with on top of the challenging job. Not that he’s complaining.

"Typhoon Tommy" Allsmiller takes a break to cool off during his expansive work restoring the interior of The Mai-Kai in July 2022. (Instagram photo)
“Typhoon Tommy” Allsmiller takes a break to cool off during his expansive work restoring the interior of The Mai-Kai in July 2022. (Instagram photo)

* The Molokai bar is receiving most of his recent attention. The designer is also doing assessments and beginning work on the main showroom and surrounding dining rooms: New Guinea, Hawaii, Moorea, Tahiti, and Samoa. It was shocking to see how years of roof leaks had caused water damage and extensive wood rot in many of the rooms after he pulled away the outer facades. Even when dealing with ceilings and support beams, Allsmiller is doing his best to recreate the same wood treatments that were originally used.

* While removing rotted wood in The Molokai, Allsmiller discovered some old painted panels that date back to the original bar. The current nautical theme, which includes artifacts and ship’s rigging salvaged from the MGM prop department and used in the 1962 film Mutiny on the Bounty, was added during the restaurant’s massive expansion in the early 1970s. The original bar was built in 1958 and is most significant because it launched two of The Mai-Kai’s most iconic features: Sarong-clad serving girls and the Mystery Drink.

Wood salvaged by "Typhoon Tommy" Allsmiller from The Molokai (left) can be traced back to the original 1958 incarnation of the bar (right). It was covered when the lounge received its current nautical theme during an expansive refurbishment in 1971. (Photo by Tommy Allsmiller / Vintage photo provided by Tim "Swanky" Glazner)
Wood salvaged by “Typhoon Tommy” Allsmiller from The Molokai (left) can be traced back to the original 1958 incarnation of the bar (right). It was covered when the lounge received its current nautical theme during an expansive refurbishment in 1971. (Photo by Tommy Allsmiller / Vintage photo provided by Tim “Swanky” Glazner)

* Allsmiller’s biggest challenge may be the restoration of wall after wall of brittle, broken and faded matting and tapa in all the rooms. He’s doing his best to recreate the exact same patterns. He said The Mai-Kai recently bought out all of the remaining stock of these materials from the now-closed Oceanic Arts in Whittier, Calif. The legendary decor and art studio, which was founded in 1956 (the same year The Mai-Kai opened) by partners LeRoy Schmaltz and Bob Van Oosting, provided a large chunk of the restaurant’s decor. Schmaltz, who recently passed away at age 87, carved tikis and much interior woodwork that was shipped to Fort Lauderdale over the decades.

The Bora Bora room, located to the right of the wooden bridge that marks the entrance to The Mai-Kai. Closed since extensive hurricane damage in 2005, the small stand-alone building is slated for removal as part of plans to reconfigure the entrance. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward, May 2022)
The Bora Bora room, located to the right of the wooden bridge that marks the entrance to The Mai-Kai. Closed since extensive hurricane damage in 2005, the small stand-alone building is slated for removal as part of plans to reconfigure the entrance. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward, May 2022)

* While the work is being done, many of the artifacts have been covered or removed. We also spotted a group of tikis from the garden stored in the Tahiti Room for safe-keeping.

* We got a peek at the outdoor lanai and gardens, where new planks and flooring have been added. The pathway has been widened so it can accommodate more guests, and it’s now wide enough for diners to take photos and not bump into others while enjoying a stroll through the garden. The walkway’s railings have also been shored up with more thick chain.

* Manager Kern Matti joined us on the tour of the interior of the main building, plus a quick peek at the adjacent Bora Bora building, which is slated for removal to make way for a totally redesigned entrance from Federal Highway. Mattei confirmed that the city of Oakland Park has received all of the proposed plans for the outside renovations. They’re now awaiting approval from the the city’s historcal preservation board before work can begin. Owner Bill Fuller revealed previously that it’s possible that the plans may not be approved, but there are contingency plans if that happens.

Stay tuned for more updates!

RELATED: Cool off this summer with takeout cocktails from The Mai-Kai

*********************

JULY 12 – Work beings refreshing the bar and dining rooms

One of the tasks of creative director and designer “Typhoon Tommy” Allsmiller is refreshing the interior of The Mai-Kai that was not damged, but still needs a bit of spiffing up. It was great to see the video he posted from Day 1 of the project …

We hope this means that most of the roof work is complete, and the project is moving closer toward completion late this year.

*********************

JULY 11 – Beat the summer heat with takeout cocktails from The Mai-Kai

There’s no better way to stay cool in South Florida than with gallons and quarts of tropical drinks from The Mai-Kai. After relaunching in May and continuing through July Fourth, the takeout menu returns with four classic Tiki cocktails available for pick-up July 22-23.

The menu is the same as the one offered on July Fourth and detailed below, including the signature rum. Scheduled pick-up dates and times are Friday, July 22 (4-6 p.m.), and Saturday, July 23 (10 a.m.-noon). Special arrangements can be made for other times.

*********************

JUNE 23 – Takeout cocktails return for Fourth of July weekend

After re-igniting in May and continuing through June, the takeout cocktail program blasts off again on the Fourth of July weekend with a menu of four classic Tiki drinks available for pick-up June 30 and July 1.

Blast into summer with takeout cocktails from The Mai-Kai

Locals can once again pick up quarts and gallons of the Barrel O’ Rum, Black Magic, Jet Pilot, and Mai Tai. Also still available are a limited number of bottles of The Mai-Kai’s signature rum released in 2020: The Real McCoy 12-year-old Distillers Proof Mai-Kai Blend.

The latest holiday cocktail bonanza follows previous opportunitites on Mother’s Day’s (and Cinco De Mayo) weekend, Memorial Day weekend, and Father’s Day weekend. Attendees at The Hukilau also grabbed quarts and gallons to go at the conclusion of the June 9-12 event in Pompano Beach.

COCKTAILS TO GO: Find out how to order, plus more info on the drinks and the “Gallons To Go” program

*********************

JUNE 29 – The Mai-Kai’s new owner reveals renovation plans during The Hukilau

The Mai-Kai's new owner reveals renovation plans during The Hukilau 2022

In the entertainment and hospitality industry, your biggest fans can also be your toughest critics. So when the new owner of South Florida’s beloved Mai-Kai sat down with more than 100 Tiki enthusiasts during The Hukilau on June 11 for an open discussion of his plans to renovate the 65-year-old landmark, their reaction was crucial.

Judging by the many rousing ovations throughout the 50-minute presentation, veteran real estate developer and historic preservationist Bill Fuller passed the test with flying colors.

Looming thunderstorms put a kibosh on the multimedia presentation planned for the open-air beachside gathering at the Beachcomber Resort in Pompano Beach. But Fuller’s words were more than enough to win over the crowd who came from around the world to the 19th Tiki weekender.

FULL COVERAGE OF THE PRESENTATION

*********************

JUNE 14 – The Mai-Kai serves cocktails, puts on a show, reveals plans at The Hukilau

Performers from The Mai-Kai dance at the oceanfront Beachcomber resort in Pompano Beach. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)
Performers from The Mai-Kai dance at the oceanfront Beachcomber resort in Pompano Beach. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)

Guests of The Hukilau were treated to several signature elements of The Mai-Kai experience during the 19th Tiki weekender June 9-12 at the Beachcomber resort in Pompano Beach.

Two cocktails that have not been available since the October 2020 closing were served to thirsty villagers. Thursday night’s welcome party featureed the Mai-Kai Swizzle, while Friday night’s pool party included a Mai-Kai pop-up bar serving the Mutiny.

Also on Friday, members of the Polynesian Islander Revue performed on the beach before the traditinal luau. On Saturday, Bill Fuller, the leader of the new ownership and management team, led an informative discussion of the upcoming renovation plans.

Check back soon for a full recap of what we learned about The Mai-Kai at The Hukilau.

The Hukilau 2022: Daily recap, photos and video
The Hukilau 2022: Daily recap, photos and video UPDATED
The 19th Tiki weekender featured four days of live music, educational seminars, cocktails and rum tastings, plus lots more.
>>> FULL DAILY COVERAGE

*********************

MAY 30 – Refurbishment plans revealed as The Mai-Kai aims for fall reopening

The Mai-Kai's renovation plans include reimagined entryway, new event space

EXCLUSIVE
The Mai-Kai’s renovation plans include reimagined entryway, new event space

When The Mai-Kai completes a multimillion-dollar renovation, guests of the historic restaurant will be treated to several major enhancements, including a more immersive arrival experience and a new banquet hall.

The head of the new ownership group broke the news and unveiled artist renderings during an online presentation for the city of Oakland Park and The Mai-Kai’s neighborhood residents in late April.

Also crucial to the reopening plans for the 65-year-old Polynesian palace, the refurbishment includes upgrading the aging roofs and air conditioning system, along with the ground-up construction of a new kitchen.

Renderings of refurbishment plans for The Mai-Kai, presented to residents of Oakland Park on April 26.
Renderings of refurbishment plans for The Mai-Kai, presented to residents of Oakland Park on April 26.

Fans of The Mai-Kai’s vintage look and feel should not fear these changes, however. The chief executive who leads both the land management firm that bought a controlling interest and the hospitality company that will be operating The Mai-Kai says there are no plans to alter the experience once guests walk through the doors.

This includes a planned revival of the Polynesian Islander Revue, the longest-running authentic South Seas stage show in the United States, including Hawaii. From the nautical-themed Molokai bar to the dining rooms named for South Seas islands, a night at The Mai-Kai will remain a transportive time capsule considered to be the last grand mid-century Polynesian supper club in the world.

“There are thousands of beautiful historic properties all over the world that are sitting vacant without their proper use, said Bill Fuller, managing partner of Miami’s Barlington Group “This is just an amazing example of a historic property that is sustainable.” Fuller’s real estate development company specializes in revitalizing cultural institutions and neighborhoods across the country.

A rendering of a new event space proposed for the rear of The Mai-Kai under plans being proposed to the city of Oakland Park. (Design by Typhoon Tommy)
A rendering of a new event space proposed for the rear of The Mai-Kai under plans being proposed to the city of Oakland Park. (Design by Typhoon Tommy)

In a question-and-answer session after the April 26 meeting to share the “plans and visions” for the reopening, Fuller spoke in realistic terms about how to best preserve The Mai-Kai: “Although we are restricted based on the historic preservation, it is absolutely imperative that we are successful from a business perspective so that we can preserve all the other great attributes of The Mai-Kai,” he said. “Not just the architectural features, but the entire immersive experience including the shows, the music, the food, the drinks.”

The new ownership team, led by Fuller’s Tiki Real Estate LLC, paid $7.5 million for The Mai-Kai and took out a $6 million mortgage. The real estate purchase is valued at more than $16 million. “Over the last few months, we have been developing plans and securing permits,” Fuller said at the start of the neighborhood participation meeting. “We anticipate reopening in the fall of this coming year.”

“We care deeply about the community of Oakland Park and are grateful for the outpouring of support we’ve had,” Fuller said. After the presentation, a neighborhood resident praised the plans and said he was thrilled that The Mai-Kai will be returning as a staple destination in the area. “It will be a great day to see it open,” he added.

SEE THE FULL STORY, PLUS PLANS AND RENDERINGS

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
Roof project: Crucial work underway to shore up historic structure
Entrance experience: Flow of parking lot to be reimagined
New event space: Banquet hall planned next to reconstructed kitchen
Behind the scenes: The Mai-Kai interior intact with exciting additions in the works
What’s next? New owner promises continued effort to restore and upgrade

*********************

APRIL 26 – The Mai-Kai takeout cocktails spice up holiday weekends

It may not have been as serious as Prohibition, but the long dry spell since September 2021 without authentic Mai-Kai cocktails was not easy to bear. Luckily, the much-appreciated “Gallons To Go” started flowing again on Easter weekend, with continued service on three more upcoming holidays. Guests can drive home with ample supplies for Mother’s Day, Memorial Day, and Father’s Day. Four of the restaurant’s most popular drinks will be available in both quarts and gallons: Barrel O’ Rum, Black Magic, Jet Pilot, and Mai Tai. Drinks will also be served during The Hukilau on June 9-12 (see March 30 update below). Sign up for the official Mai-Kai newsletter to receive updates.

The Mai-Kai cocktails to go
The Mai-Kai’s takeout cocktails returning in May and June 2022
During the restaurant’s refurbishment, quarts and gallons of four classic tropical drinks will be available on three upcoming holiday weekends.
>>> Get the latest news on takeout cocktails

*********************

MARCH 30 – Tickets on sale for The Hukilau featuring Mai-Kai cocktails, special presentation

Fans of The Mai-Kai will not want to miss the presentation by the new owners on the future of restaurant during The Hukilau 2022 in June at the Beachcomber Resort & Club in Pompano Beach. Event attendees will also be able to enjoy authentic Mai-Kai cocktails served throughout the weekend. Tickets are available now! The presentation and meet-and-greet with The Mai-Kai team will happen on Saturday, June 11. South Seas passholders receive guaranteed seating, while Aloha passholders can attend on a space-available basis. The pop-up cocktail bar is open to all guests of The Hukilau, celebrating its 19th live event (and 18th in South Florida in association with The Mai-Kai).

The Hukilau announces 2022 entertainment lineup as tickets go on sale for 19th Tiki weekender in June
The Hukilau announces entertainment lineup as tickets go on sale for 19th Tiki weekender
The East Coast’s longest-running Polynesian Pop event will feature live music (The Surfrajettes, The Intoxicators, The Manakooras, King Kukulele), symposiums (Ian Burrell, David Wondrich), 18 guest bars, rum tastings, luau on the beach, pool parties, Tiki Treasures Bazaar, plus more on June 9-12.

*********************

MARCH 4 – The Hukilau will feature The Mai-Kai at beachside resort in June

The Mai-Kai has been involved with The Hukilau since the annual Tiki weekender moved to Fort Lauderdale in its second year in 2003. When the pandemic put a damper on the 2020 event, the restaurant hosted special virtual festivities. In 2021, the event moved to a new hotel on Pompano Beach and featured The Mai-Kai’s last outdoor cocktail party on Sept. 18, just before the announcement of the new partnership that paved the way for the $5 million restoration plans. For 2022, The Hukilau is back at the Beachcomber Resort & Club for a four-day party on June 9-12. Even though The Mai-Kai will still be closed for the massive renovations, it will still be a big part of the event. Organizer Richard Oneslager, one of the investors in the new partnership, announced that The Mai-Kai will host both a pop-up bar and a bungalow party during the event. In addition, the new ownership team will share the refurbishment plans in an exclusive presentation on Saturday, June 11. Event tickets and hotel reservations will be available soon.

The Hukilau returns to June, oceanfront Beachcomber Resort near Fort Lauderdale
The Hukilau returns to June, oceanfront resort near Fort Lauderdale
The East Coast’s longest-running Tiki weekender is back at the cozy Beachcomber Resort & Club on the ocean in Pompano Beach for its 19th live event on June 9-12.

*********************

JAN. 26 – Florida Tiki designer signs on to refurbish The Mai-Kai

Florida Tiki designer sings on to refurbish The Mai-Kai
“Typhoon Tommy” Allsmiller teaches a class at The Hukilau 2021 in September, then relaxes at The Mai-Kai with wife Kari. (Photos by Hurricane Hayward / The Atomic Grog)

Noted Tiki designer and craftsman “Typhoon Tommy” Allsmiller announced on social media today that he’ll be working with The Mai-Kai as creative director and designer on “some exciting new additions to the legacy of this already fantastic establishment.” The Orlando-based artist said he’s “honored and humbled” to be working with the Thornton family and their new partners “in creating unique experiences” and “rehabbing some areas in need of love and attention.” Allsmiller is known for his work at Disney World and Universal parks as well as designing the Suffering Bastard in Sanford. More recently, he built Tahiti Gil’s Mananui, a vacation home in Orlando inspired by Disney’s Polynesian Village. “I can’t begin to tell you how thrilled I am to participate in this dream project,” he said in his Mai-Kai announcement. “Some of you may know The Mai-Kai is an extraordinary place to my family and me, as well as the place Kari and I tied the knot in February of 2020. The magnitude of this opportunity is not lost on me, and I’m excited to share it with all of you. The road will be long, but the destination will be worth it – so stay tuned.” In the meantime, you can catch Allsmiller at this weekend’s Inuhele in Atlanta, where he’ll be teaching a class on how to create vintage signs for home bars. He has presented Tiki design symposiums at other events, including The Hukilau in Fort Lauderdale in September. Allsmiller also shares his expertise in the book The Field Guide to Tiki Decorating with Trader Sam’s designer “Trader Brandon” Kleyla and veteran Tiki artist “Tiki Tony” Murphy.

*********************

JAN. 19 – Potential reopening timeframe shared on social media

Mai-Kai reopening timeframe shared on social media

In response to a question about a reopening date, an answer from the official Mai-Kai page on Facebook provided some new information on the planned (or “hoped for”) timeframe:

“Hopefully the Molokai bar will reopen this summer and the restaurant later this year!”

We were also reminded to sign up for the newsletter to make sure we get all official announcements.

This is the first time we’ve seen a reference to specific time periods in comments about the refurbishment. It also reaffirms speculation that The Molokai lounge, which is located in the front of the building away from the damaged kitchen, would reopen before the remainder of the restaurant.

We’ll continue to monitor social media and official sources for more info. Stay tuned!

**************************************************

PAST COVERAGE

The Mai-Kai fans rejoice as new partnership paves way for reopening
The Mai-Kai fans rejoice as new partnership paves way for reopening
Everything you need to know about the historic restaurant’s new join ownership deal that will include at least $5 million in renovations.

Exclusive photos: The Mai-Kai through the eyes of The Hukilau villagers
Exclusive photos: The Mai-Kai through the eyes of The Hukilau villagers
See images from the annual Tiki weekender shared by loyal fans.

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 signed a petition and thousands flooded social media channels as the historic restaurant sought potential partners in the wake of devastating storm damage.

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.

3 Replies to “UPDATES: Latest news on The Mai-Kai renovations and reopening in 2022”

  1. We have been coming here for many years we were sad when it closed down. Will be happy and waiting for the reopening

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Warning: Undefined array key "header" in /data/23/2/84/46/2247209/user/2469392/htdocs/atomicgrog/blog/wp-content/plugins/wp-rocket/inc/functions/minify.php on line 145

Fatal error: Uncaught TypeError: implode(): Argument #2 ($array) must be of type ?array, string given in /data/23/2/84/46/2247209/user/2469392/htdocs/atomicgrog/blog/wp-content/plugins/wp-rocket/vendor/matthiasmullie/minify/src/CSS.php:518 Stack trace: #0 /data/23/2/84/46/2247209/user/2469392/htdocs/atomicgrog/blog/wp-content/plugins/wp-rocket/vendor/matthiasmullie/minify/src/CSS.php(518): implode(Array, '|') #1 /data/23/2/84/46/2247209/user/2469392/htdocs/atomicgrog/blog/wp-content/plugins/wp-rocket/vendor/matthiasmullie/minify/src/CSS.php(311): MatthiasMullie\Minify\CSS->shortenHex('#sb_instagram,#...') #2 /data/23/2/84/46/2247209/user/2469392/htdocs/atomicgrog/blog/wp-content/plugins/wp-rocket/vendor/matthiasmullie/minify/src/Minify.php(111): MatthiasMullie\Minify\CSS->execute(NULL) #3 /data/23/2/84/46/2247209/user/2469392/htdocs/atomicgrog/blog/wp-content/plugins/wp-rocket/inc/functions/minify.php(371): MatthiasMullie\Minify\Minify->minify() #4 /data/23/2/84/46/2247209/user/2469392/htdocs/atomicgrog/blog/wp-content/plugins/wp-rocket/inc/functions/minify.php(304): rocket_minify(Array, 'css') #5 /data/23/2/84/46/2247209/user/2469392/htdocs/atomicgrog/blog/wp-content/plugins/wp-rocket/inc/functions/minify.php(165): get_rocket_minify_url(Array, 'css') #6 /data/23/2/84/46/2247209/user/2469392/htdocs/atomicgrog/blog/wp-content/plugins/wp-rocket/inc/front/minify.php(31): rocket_minify_files('<!DOCTYPE html>...', 'css') #7 /data/23/2/84/46/2247209/user/2469392/htdocs/atomicgrog/blog/wp-includes/class-wp-hook.php(307): rocket_minify_process('<!DOCTYPE html>...') #8 /data/23/2/84/46/2247209/user/2469392/htdocs/atomicgrog/blog/wp-includes/plugin.php(191): WP_Hook->apply_filters('<!DOCTYPE html>...', Array) #9 /data/23/2/84/46/2247209/user/2469392/htdocs/atomicgrog/blog/wp-content/plugins/wp-rocket/inc/front/process.php(267): apply_filters('rocket_buffer', '<!DOCTYPE html>...') #10 [internal function]: do_rocket_callback('<!DOCTYPE html>...', 9) #11 /data/23/2/84/46/2247209/user/2469392/htdocs/atomicgrog/blog/wp-includes/functions.php(5275): ob_end_flush() #12 /data/23/2/84/46/2247209/user/2469392/htdocs/atomicgrog/blog/wp-includes/class-wp-hook.php(307): wp_ob_end_flush_all('') #13 /data/23/2/84/46/2247209/user/2469392/htdocs/atomicgrog/blog/wp-includes/class-wp-hook.php(331): WP_Hook->apply_filters('', Array) #14 /data/23/2/84/46/2247209/user/2469392/htdocs/atomicgrog/blog/wp-includes/plugin.php(476): WP_Hook->do_action(Array) #15 /data/23/2/84/46/2247209/user/2469392/htdocs/atomicgrog/blog/wp-includes/load.php(1102): do_action('shutdown') #16 [internal function]: shutdown_action_hook() #17 {main} thrown in /data/23/2/84/46/2247209/user/2469392/htdocs/atomicgrog/blog/wp-content/plugins/wp-rocket/vendor/matthiasmullie/minify/src/CSS.php on line 518