Tiki temple: Tour the historic Mai-Kai Restaurant in Fort Lauderdale via Google Maps

Posted at 9:34 AM, Mar 28, 2017
and last updated 2019-03-26 07:53:38-04

The Mai-Kai in Fort Lauderdale is one of the last remaining authentic Polynesian tiki restaurants from the genre's Golden Age in the 50s and 60s.

Opened in 1956, the sprawling restaurant, bar and showplace with extensive outdoor gardens is one of the few "Grand Polynesian Palaces of Tiki" still in operation today, according to USA Today.

Inspired by visits to Don the Beachcomber's in Chicago and Trader Vics' in San Francisco, brothers Bob and Jack Thornton, having relocated to Florida after military service, decided to open a Polynesian restaurant in Oakland Park, then an undeveloped area of Fort Lauderdale.

The brothers hired away many of Don the Beachcomber's seconds-in-command, including chef Kenny Lee, mixologist Mariano Licudine, maitre d' Andy Tonato, and many other staff members.

The nightly Mai-Kai Islanders Revue, an authentic South Pacific stage show that includes fire dancers and hula dancers, is the longest running Polynesian show in the U.S., according to the National Register of Historic Places, to which the Mai-Kai was added in 2014.

Known for it's powerful rum drinks, many based on Licudine's original recipes, the Mai-Kai is a regular destination for tikiphiles and others who celebrate the Polynesian culture.

If you haven't visited, you can take a tour below, thanks to Google Maps. 

Tokyo Olympics Medal Count as of late Aug. 2, 2021