Saturday, June 13, Hukilau will spend an enchanted evening at the Mai Kai! The night kicks off with drinks & music in the nautical Molokai Bar, then moves to the Mai-Kai’s many dining rooms, where there will be two seatings for dinner and the Mai-Kai’s famous Polynesian floor show! After dinner, enjoy more music and entertainment in the Mai-Kai’s rear dining areas, Samoa and Tahiti, and stroll the exotic and lush outdoor gardens. It’s sure to be a night to remember!
The Mai Kai—it’s hard to describe, as so many thoughts and emotions come to mind as one enters the doors of this mid-century icon. Driving over the wood planked bridge you realize you are entering into another world of enchantment and beauty.
In the 1950s, two brothers from the Chicago area, Robert and Jack Thornton, set their sights on building one of the most amazing Polynesian restaurants in the world. As Bob Thornton told The Miami Herald in 1974, "The region generally was on the move, and Fort Lauderdale had no specialty restaurants outside of steak houses." After leaving the service, the brothers trained at bars pouring drinks and toured all the leading Polynesian restaurants in the country, including Hawaii. With $100,000 of their own and their parents’ money, a reluctantly granted bank loan and two of the top men from Don the Beachcomber's in Chicago (Mariano Licudine as Master Mixologist and Kenny Lee as Master Chef) -- the brothers managed to open the Mai-Kai in December 1956 on a barely populated slice of U.S. 1 in Fort Lauderdale, FL, a sleepy but growing tourist town. The restaurant had four rooms, a small bar and could seat 225 people for dinner.[ click here to read more ]