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Mai-Kai Restoration Guide

Updated June 12, 2024

This is the definitive source of news, photos and information on the multimillion-dollar renovation and restoration of The Mai-Kai, the historic Polynesian restaurant in South Florida. Reported, written, photographed and edited by journalist Jim “Hurricane” Hayward. A grand reopening is on track for late summer to early fall 2024.
* Special events | All stories on the renovation work
See also: Okole Maluna Society – The Mai-Kai Cocktail Guide

LATEST REFURBISHMENT NEWS

NEW: Lovingly restored treasure to open late summer

Lovingly restored treasure to open late summer
From Florida Ramber: “The Mai-Kai Restaurant is a beloved historic landmark that is re-opening later this summer or fall after four years of careful restoration. Great effort went into maintaining the Polynesian mystique of the Fort Lauderdale icon.” Photos taken June 7 during a sneak peek at The Molokai bar during The Hukilau. More to come!
FloridaRambler.com: See the full story on The Mai-Kai’s history and restoration

NEW: Sneak peek: Inside the Mai-Kai Restaurant’s $15 million face-lift — and when it reopens (Sun-Sentinel)

The Mai-Kai restoration work expands, sneak previews offered at The Hukilau (May 2024 update)

The Mai-Kai restoration work expands, sneak previews offered at The Hukilau (May 2024 update)
The $15 million project continues to engulf the 2.7-acre historic property as event passholders are treated to special tours of fully restored indoor guest areas.
>>> EVENT PREVIEW, EXTENSIVE UPDATES AND PHOTOS

See below: Past 2024 coverage | 2023 | 2022 | 2020-2021 | News archive | Special features

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UPCOMING & RECENT EVENTS

NEW: Mai-Kai sneak preview for guests of The Hukilau

The Hukilau 2024 preview & flashback: Inside (and outside) The Mai-Kai with Tiki carver Will Anders
The Hukilau 2024 preview & flashback: Inside (and outside) The Mai-Kai with Tiki carver Will Anders
The South Florida artist will share his experiences creating authentic Polynesian art – both large and small – during a presentation on June 8 at the annual Tiki weekender on Pompano Beach.
>>> EVENT PREVIEW, BACK STORY AND PHOTOS OF WILL ANDERS’ WORK
AUDIO & PHOTOS: Walking tour with Will Anders, Kern Mattei, Hurricane Hayward in 2018

The Hukilau 2024 preview: Symposiums, vendors and more announced for 22nd Tiki weekender
The Hukilau 2024 preview: Symposiums, vendors and more announced for 22nd Tiki weekender June 6-9
The East Coast’s longest-running Polynesian Pop weekender features an all-star lineup of musical, mixological and scholarly talent for its annual gathering in South Florida next month.
>>> SNEAK PREVIEW, UPDATES AND SCHEDULE
Direct links: Daily lineup and symposiums | Pre-order official mug
Tiki Treasures Bazaar lineup | Exclusive Mai-Kai tours
Previous coverage: The Hukilau 2024 attracts bands, bars and VIPs from around the globe, returns to The Mai-Kai

Photos, video: The first Tiki-a-Go-Go is a retro roadtrip through mid-century culture, appreciation
The first Tiki-a-Go-Go is a retro roadtrip through mid-century culture, appreciation
The April 5-7 event was a trip back in time, taking guests on a rollicking ride through mid-century Florida theme parks, Tiki bars, and other retro touchstones.

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The Mai-Kai official site

The Mai-Kai official sites and social media
E-mail alerts: Sign up to receive updates on the reopening
* MaiKai.com | MaiKaiTradingPost.com | Facebook: Official page | Friends of The Mai-Kai group
Instagram: Restaurant | The Molokai bar | Trading Post

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2024: MAI-KAI RESTORATION PAST COVERAGE

APRIL 2024

The Mai-Kai reveals new images, plans for restoration at Orlando event, continues $15M project (April 2024 update)
The Mai-Kai reveals new images, plans for restoration at Orlando event, continues $15M project (April 2024 update)
Full coverage of the panel discussion at Tiki-a-Go-Go, including new photos and renderings of plans for the reimagination of the entry experience at the historic restaurant.

MARCH 2024

Mai-Kai kitchen and bar take shape as team heads to Tiki-a-Go-Go event (March 2024 update)
Mai-Kai kitchen and bar take shape as team heads to Tiki-a-Go-Go
New equipment is now being installed in the rebuilt back-of-house at the historic South Florida restaurant.

FEBRUARY 2024

Mai-Kai update (February 2024): Exterior reimagination up next as $15 million Mai-Kai project plows ahead
Exterior reimagination up next as $15 million Mai-Kai project plows ahead
The historic South Florida restaurant prepares for an ambitious transformation of its sprawling 2.7-acre grounds.

JANUARY 2024

Mai-Kai update (January 2024): Renovations engulf entire property, reopening estimated for summer
Renovations engulf entire property, reopening estimated for summer
Extensive infrastructure work moves underground, artists expand scope of restoration as project points toward completion by middle of the year.

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2023: MAI-KAI RESTORATION ARCHIVE

2023 RECAPS

The Mai-Kai refurbishment 2023 year-end recap: Updates, photos, timeline
Mai-Kai refurbishment 2023 year-end recap: Updates, photos, timeline
Everything you need to know about the ongoing restoration, plus a comprehensive compilation of 2023 highlights.
>>> FULL STORY, EXCLUSIVE PHOTOS
The year in review: 2023 timeline, past coverage

Top 10 stories of 2023: Tiki resurgence and appreciation breathes life into year marked by loss
Top 10 stories of 2023: Tiki resurgence and appreciation breathes life into year marked by loss
Take a look back at last year’s most significant news, including legends lost, honored and revived.
Top story No. 4: Mai-Kai renovation heads for home stretch

DECEMBER 2023

Beyond Bora Bora: Reimagination of Mai-Kai entry experience evokes original vision
Beyond Bora Bora: Reimagination of Mai-Kai entry experience evokes original vision
A new driveway and lushly landscaped parking will completely immerse guests in a South Seas fantasy world, just as the original owners envisioned.

NOVEMBER 2023

Mai-Kai update, fall 2023: Artists shine amid construction as final renovation projects take flight
Mai-Kai update, fall 2023: Artists shine amid construction as final renovation projects take flight
While multiple construction projects are underway inside and outside the historic property, a small team of craftsmen is bringing the vintage decor back to life.

SEPTEMBER 2023

Outside The Mai-Kai: Artistic flourishes set stage for reimagination, early 2024 reopening
Outside The Mai-Kai: Artistic flourishes set stage for reimagination, early 2024 reopening
The final phase of the multimillion-dollar renovation kicks off as artists and craftsmen restore and transform the signature porte-cochère.

Inside The Mai-Kai: Detailed restoration advances amid total infrastructure overhaul (summer 2023 recap)
Inside The Mai-Kai: Detailed restoration advances amid total infrastructure overhaul
Work is progressing on the historic South Florida restaurant’s guest areas alongside a near total rebuild of the back-of-house facilities.

AUGUST 2023

The Mai-Kai at Tiki Oasis
The Mai-Kai and The Atomic Grog at Tiki Oasis
We were proud to present two special seminars at the world’s original Tiki weekender in San Diego, including Tiki History Reimagined: The Restoration and Reopening of The Mai-Kai.

JULY 2023

The Mai-Kai renovations, May-June 2023: Historic restaurant's new infrastructure begins to take shape
The Mai-Kai renovations, May-June 2023: Historic restaurant’s new infrastructure begins to take shape
Crucial work was completed over the past two months in the multimillion-dollar restoration project.

Meticulous attention to detail is hallmark of The Mai-Kai restoration project (May-June 2023 update)
Meticulous attention to detail is hallmark of The Mai-Kai restoration project (May-June 2023 update)
When guests re-enter the Polynesian palace, it will be like stepping into a time machine set for 1973 thanks to a talented team of artists and craftspeople.

MAY 2023

The Mai-Kai renovations, April 2023: Bora Bora building comes down as restoration efforts pick up steam
The Mai-Kai renovations, April 2023: Bora Bora building comes down as restoration efforts pick up steam
The structural footprint of the historic South Florida restaurant changed dramatically with the demolition of a long-dormant building. Meanwhile, work accelerated restoring the vintage dining rooms and rebuilding the back of house.

APRIL 2023

EXCLUSIVE PHOTOS: Behind the scenes at The-Mai-Kai as restoration ramps up in 2023
Behind the scenes at The-Mai-Kai as restoration ramps up in 2023
With work accelerating on the exterior, craftsmen meticulously restore the historic South Florida restaurant’s elaborately themed interior guest areas in exacting detail.

MARCH 2023

The Mai-Kai officially begins work on first phase of $8.5 million renovation projects
The Mai-Kai officially begins work on first phase of $8.5 million renovation projects
With three key building permits in hand, the new ownership group is finally moving full-steam ahead on major construction projects that will restore and reshape the historic Polynesian restaurant.

FEBRUARY 2023

New details on The Mai-Kai renovations, new merchandise revealed at Inuhele 2023 in Atlanta
New details on The Mai-Kai renovations, new merchandise revealed at Inuhele 2023 in Atlanta
New images and renderings of the historic restaurant’s multimillion-dollar refurbishment unveiled during presentation at Tiki weekender. Attendees also got a sneak preview of new mugs and other merchandise along with a new signature rum.

JANUARY 2023

Historic preservation board approves The Mai-Kai's renovation plans, clearing way for project to move forward
Historic preservation board approves The Mai-Kai’s renovation plans, clearing way for project to move forward
Landmark Polynesian restaurant allowed to remove old building, make other enhancements in sweeping plan to reimagine 66-year-old, 2.7-acre property.

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2022: MAI-KAI RESTORATION ARCHIVE

Latest news on The Mai-Kai renovations and reopening
The Mai-Kai turns 66 as work progresses on multiple renovation projects
There are many reasons to be hopeful that the 67th anniversary in 2023 will be the first since 2019 when we’ll once again be able to gather inside the historic Fort Lauderdale restaurant to appreciate its grandeur and beauty.

The Mai-Kai's new owner reveals renovation plans during The Hukilau 2022
The Mai-Kai’s new owner reveals renovation plans during The Hukilau
Tiki enthusiasts get preview of refurbishment of the 65-year-old landmark during discussion at annual event in June.

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

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2020-2021: MAI-KAI CLOSING AND SALE

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.

Hulaween on hiatus: Relive 12 years of madness at The Mai-Kai
Hulaween on hiatus: Relive 12 years of madness at The Mai-Kai
With the Tiki temple closed for refurbishment, the annual Halloween bash was canceled. But that won’t stop us from taking a look back at the past 12 years of madness in The Molokai bar.

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 signed a petition and thousands flooded social media channels.

The Mai-Kai celebrates 64th anniversary under the moon as challenges loom
The Mai-Kai celebrates 64th anniversary under the moon as challenges loom
Check out all the details on The Mai-Kai’s sold-out 64th anniversary party.

Safe and scary fun: Hulaween Drive-In Movie at The Mai-Kai on Oct. 30
The Mai-Kai celebrates Hulaween 2020 with drive-in movie party after closing for renovations
The historic Polynesian restaurant transported revelers to a socially-distanced celebration like no other, including an appearance by Appleton Rum’s Joy Spence.

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MAI-KAI NEWS ARCHIVE

2017
* The Mai-Kai is here to stay: 10 reasons why we love the historic restaurant

2016
* New giant carved Tiki added to The Mai-Kai’s outdoor garden for 60th anniversary
* The Mai-Kai turns 60 with special history presentations, celebration
* ‘King Kai’ leads procession of new Tikis into The Mai-Kai
* New Mai-Kai mugs released, history book coming

2014
* Historic Mai-Kai celebrated, new cocktail menu unveiled at anniversary party

2012
* Mai-Kai tropical drink family tree
* Heeeeeeere’s the rich history and lost stories of The Mai-Kai

2011
* Tour of The Mai-Kai’s mysterious bars and kitchen (with photos)
* Interview with General Manager Kern Mattei

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MAI-KAI SPECIAL FEATURES

The Mai-Kai Walking Tour on Marooned: A Texas Tiki Podcast
The Mai-Kai Walking Tour on Marooned: A Texas Tiki Podcast

Join The Atomic Grog for a Mai-Kai history lesson with carver Will Anders and manager Kern Mattei in July 2018. It’s a real Tiki museum audio walking tour.

The Atomic Grog on Marooned: A Texas Tiki Podcast
The Atomic Grog on Marooned: A Texas Tiki Podcast

Listen to Hurricane Hayward and Texas Tiki and cocktail podcaster David Phantomatic in the Samoa Room at The Mai-Kai in July 2018 as they discuss (what else) the historic tropical drinks and influence of South Florida’s Polynesian Palace.

Explore The Mai-Kai in 3-D | Captured by Google in May 2016

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

Mai-Kai: History and Mystery of the Iconic Tiki Restaurant
The definitive book on the historic landmark by Tim “Swanky” Glazner.
* Official website | Facebook | Instagram

New videos from Tim “Swanky Glazner
Check out Swanky’s Tiki Classics on YouTube for classic Mai-Kai clips.

Minimalist Tiki

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