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.
APRIL 26 – The Mai-Kai takeout cocktails spice up holiday weekends UPDATED
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.
UPDATED: 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).
NEW: 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 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
“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
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!
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
See images from the annual Tiki weekender shared by loyal fans.
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.
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.