The Mai-Kai (3599 N. Federal Hwy., Fort Lauderdale) turns 60 this week, and to mark the occasion, the Polynesian-themed establishment will host its annual Customer Celebration Party today, December 28.
Think of it as a mini Hukilau: a daylong event featuring two special symposium presentations by revered tiki-philes Sven Kirsten and Tim Glazner, as well as the debut of a Polynesian show designed and choreographed by Mai-Kai owner Mireille Thornton.
Added to the National Register of Historic Places two years ago, Mai-Kai is one of the nation's last remaining examples of a mid-20th-century Polynesian supper club, and it's considered a tiki mecca around the world.
Doors to the Customer Celebration Party open at 1:30 p.m. with a series of presentations, including slideshows of vintage photos, rare video footage, and artwork, taking place in the Polynesian palace’s main showroom, also home to the longest-running authentic South Seas stage show in the United States, including Hawaii.
Tiki Kiliki Productions, creator of the Mai-Kai's annual Polynesian pop event, Hukilau, will also sponsor a raffle with giveaways such as a limited-edition decanter designed as a tribute to the original produced in 1961, sculpted by Eekum Bookum, a company that produces handcrafted tiki mugs. Here's the schedule of events, which begins at 2 p.m. and runs throughout the day:
2 p.m.: the anniversary celebration will kick off with the symposium Tahitian Cannibal Carvings: The Logo Tikis of the Mai-Kai. Sven Kirsten will present for the first time his research into the origins and history of the Mai-Kai’s iconic Tahitian cannibal carvings, which have served as the restaurant’s logo in one form or another since opening day. This will be a rare opportunity to see the influential Kirsten, author of The Book of Tiki and Tiki Modern. His last appearance at the Mai-Kai was during the 2012 Hukilau.
3 p.m.: Tim Glazner, author of Mai-Kai: History and Mystery of the Iconic Tiki Restaurant, will give guests a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the history of the Mai-Kai through his new symposium, Then and Now. His talks have covered a variety of topics, from the father of tiki, Don the Beachcomber; and the restaurant's original master mixologist, Mariano Licudine, to the stories behind the glamorous women who worked as Mystery Girls and Molokai Girls.
3:30 p.m.: The Molokai bar will open 90 minutes early for an extended happy hour, which will run until 7 p.m. In addition to ordering from the regular drink menu, guests will also be able to taste three "lost cocktails" first featured on Mai-Kai’s opening drink menu.
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4 p.m.: Kirsten and Glazner will participate in a book signing in the Mai-Kai gift shop.
6 p.m.: Guitarist/vocalist Rose Marie will perform island music, followed by the debut performance of an all-new Polynesian show choreographed by Mai-Kai owner Mireille Thornton. Showtimes are 7 and 9.30 p.m. Reservations are required for the $60 dinner-and-show anniversary special.
Customer Celebration Party
1:30 p.m. Wednesday, December 28, at Mai-Kai. Tickets, which cost $10 per person plus a $1.50 fee, must be purchased in advance at tikikiliki.com.