Updated Feb. 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 summer 2024.
* Read all the past renovation stories
SEE ALSO: Okole Maluna Society – The Mai-Kai Cocktail Guide
LATEST REFURBISHMENT NEWS
Extensive infrastructure work moves underground, artists expand scope of restoration as project points toward completion by middle of the year.
>>> EXCLUSIVE NEWS AND UPDATES
Detailed coverage: Latest news on the refurbishments | Timeline of current projects
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
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
Extended coverage, photos: 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.
Detailed coverage: Bora Bora history | The demolition | Latest updates | The plans
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.
PAST SPECIAL EVENT
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.
2023: MAI-KAI RESTORATION PAST COVERAGE
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
Work is progressing on the historic South Florida restaurant’s guest areas alongside a near total rebuild of the back-of-house facilities.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
2022: MAI-KAI RESTORATION ARCHIVE
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
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
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.
2020-2021: MAI-KAI CLOSING AND SALE
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.
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.
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 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
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
Check out all the details on The Mai-Kai’s sold-out 64th anniversary party.
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.
MAI-KAI NEWS ARCHIVE
* 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
MAI-KAI SPECIAL FEATURES
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. It’s a real Tiki museum audio walking tour.
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 as they discuss (what else) the historic tropical drinks and influence of South Florida’s Polynesian Palace. The podcast is also available on all major podcasting platforms: Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, and Stitcher.
Explore The Mai-Kai in 3-D | Captured by Google in May 2016
New videos from Tim “Swanky Glazner
Check out Swanky’s Tiki Classics on YouTube for classic Mai-Kai clips.