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Tiki Central Forums Locating Tiki Mai Kai, Fort Lauderdale, FL (restaurant)
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Mai Kai, Fort Lauderdale, FL (restaurant)
Hurricane Hayward
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jun 07, 2008
Posts: 1455
From: 16 miles from The Mai-Kai
Posted: 2014-12-19 10:21 pm   Permalink

finky099, great selection of drinks! It's rare to see the Rum Julep served in the metal cup.

Here's the latest info on next week's Customer Celebration Parties. Yes, there's more than one this year. In addition to Sunday, Dec. 28, there will be an additional party on Saturday, Dec. 27, with live music and 58% off all food and drinks all night in The Molokai bar.

http://www.slammie.com/atomicgrog/blog/2014/12/19/celebrating-58-years-the-mai-kai-expands-anniversary-party-to-two-nights/


1960s and today ...


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Hurricane Hayward
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jun 07, 2008
Posts: 1455
From: 16 miles from The Mai-Kai
Posted: 2014-12-29 10:32 pm   Permalink

Aloha Boyz - featuring former Polynesian Islander Revue musicians Ty Olopai (ukulele/vocals), Derek Suzuki (guitar/vocals), and Buki Teheiura Itchener (bass/vocals) - perform during the Customer Celebration Party on Dec. 27 ...





 
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AdOrAdam
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jun 16, 2013
Posts: 630
From: Wolverhampton, UK
Posted: 2015-01-03 07:14 am   Permalink

I went to Mai Kai twice over their anniversary weekend & so I thought I would review it on Critiki's Mai Kai page & add comments on here:

Decor: 9 (it is rich)

Drink Quality: 5 followed by 7
Drink Selection: N/A

The drinks were bad on the first night, better on the second - when I tasted a few on the first night, the wide menu didn't seem to matter, they were all too sweet for me. I sent a Jet Pilot back for being overly sweet.

They suffered from inconsistent quality of drinks (ie I had a Rum Barrel the first night which wasn't good & tried another the second night which was much better)

On the second night they were much more balanced (but I couldnt go back & redrink the drinks from the first night).

Food Quality: 5
Food Selection: 7 followed by 1

Pretty much standard chinese food but pricey.

I'm a vegetarian - veggie options were ok in the dining room but there was only one veggie option in the bar (the goats cheese salad), ordering from the dining room but being in the bar was not permitted (I had a Subway on the way home)

Mood: 7 followed by 5
Music: 7 followed by 5

The dining room the first night was nice (music & mood), the Molokai Bar the second night had the Aloha Boyz which were good but played some songs after them that made our party make jokes about them wanting to clear us out!

Service: 6 followed by 1.

The meal was a bit disjointed the first night as food was delivered at different times, the drinks were quick. The second night everything went haywire - a diet coke took longer than a Rum Barrel!

Tikiness: 7.

Tiki posts everywhere but no big tikis inside.

NB: The Molokai Bar doesnt have a single tiki in it but it is meant to be a ship so I exclude that from the 'Tikiness' score.

Tilt: 6
Vibe: 6

It just didnt pull together for me - my overall Critiki score was surprising low (6.5).

But I think they showed signs of greatness but also signs of naffness - if I could have had the mood the first night & the drinks from the second night my score would have been a bit higher.

I hope to attend again in the future to see if I can catch it on a good night but wont go as far out of my way as I did this time.

One thing to note is: if you make any of the drinks on the Atomic Grog website you'll be replicating the Mai Kai drinks at their best from my trip.
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hang10tiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jul 18, 2010
Posts: 7816
From: Las Vegas
Posted: 2015-01-03 7:26 pm   Permalink




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Hurricane Hayward
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jun 07, 2008
Posts: 1455
From: 16 miles from The Mai-Kai
Posted: 2015-01-04 01:06 am   Permalink

Quote:
On 2015-01-03 07:14, AdOrAdam wrote:
The meal was a bit disjointed the first night as food was delivered at different times, the drinks were quick. The second night everything went haywire - a diet coke took longer than a Rum Barrel!



It should be noted that AdOrAdam attended during the two nights of the 58th anniversary party, when the place was packed (especially Sunday in the bar) and the staff was admittedly stretched to its limits. That's not to excuse any service problems. I've had impeccable service on many worse nights, such as a sold-out New Year's Eve and a chaotic day of The Hukilau. On Sunday, we apparently encountered a waitress who was in way over her head.

Adam's critique does somewhat disprove the notion that the drinks are better in the dining rooms, coming out of the main service bar. He said his drinks were better on Sunday in The Molokai, despite the crowded conditions and over-burdened bar staff. It also proves my theory that the drink recipes are timeless classics that, when executed correctly, stand up against any tropical drinks out there. It's just that The Mai-Kai's extremely high-volume operation and huge staff can sometimes work against it. But if you go there enough, you'll find that the outstanding experiences greatly outweigh the less-than-stellar ones.

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mikehooker
Grand Member (first year)  

Joined: Jul 17, 2014
Posts: 960
From: Austin
Posted: 2015-01-04 11:21 am   Permalink

Quote:

On 2015-01-04 01:06, Hurricane Hayward wrote:
But if you go there enough, you'll find that the outstanding experiences greatly outweigh the less-than-stellar ones.





Perfectly fine if you live nearby and can go frequently but very unfortunate for those traveling across seas or from other parts of the country with hopes of a positive and lasting impression. As stated in my earlier critique, the bar is set so high for this place that when you have a disappointing experience it's that much more crushing. I'm just glad to some extent we can still enjoy the drinks at home thanks to your diligent work. But there's nothing like a night at the Mai Kai when everything is done right.

[ This Message was edited by: mikehooker 2015-01-04 13:54 ]


 
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Thortiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jul 29, 2006
Posts: 382
From: Maryland (Land of Pleasant Tiki Living)
Posted: 2015-01-04 12:39 pm   Permalink

At least the Alhoa Boyz look like a musical improvement over the last time I was there.

 
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EPCOTExplorer
Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 13, 2014
Posts: 298
From: Miami, FL
Posted: 2015-01-04 9:14 pm   Permalink

Visited yesterday and had a decent experience. Not as nice as my first visit back in May, but still- it's the Mai Kai. Always a lovely time.

My complaints? No water on the Molokai windows! I loved that little effect and was disappointed not to see it running.

Also, PACKED house (yay) but service was really slow. Drinks were kinda weak, too. Nor did they have the mug for my drink.

That said- music was great. Lovely musician in the Molokai, the show was as as beautiful as ever, and the Mai Kai just oozes midcentury tiki. I wish it (the gardens look a tag worn) were kept up a bit better, but I'm so happy SoFla has this treasure.

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[ This Message was edited by: EPCOTExplorer 2015-01-04 21:16 ]


 
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Hurricane Hayward
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jun 07, 2008
Posts: 1455
From: 16 miles from The Mai-Kai
Posted: 2015-01-05 12:20 am   Permalink

Quote:
On 2015-01-04 21:14, EPCOTExplorer wrote:
My complaints? No water on the Molokai windows! I loved that little effect and was disappointed not to see it running.


The water effect was working last week, so I'm assuming it's a temporary issue that will be fixed. I've seen it down from time to time over the years, but never for too long.

This and other issues like the garden are indicative of how much of a nightmare it must be to maintain such a unique facility. Things were actually a lot worse before the multimillion-dollar investment in capital improvements following the hurricane damage during the last decade. Anyone remember the leaky roof? Let's hope the continued popularity will allow profits to be rolled back into facility upkeep.

As mikehooker notes, it's unfortunate that out-of-town visitors only get a short time to enjoy all The Mai-Kai has to offer, only to find flaws in one area or another. Service and food/drink quality issues are certainly not as easy to forgive, but also more easily correctable. I know there's an ongoing commitment to QC in this area, so I'll trust that the appropriate systems will work. Meanwhile, I'll be happy to continue to sample all the drinks and make sure they're up to snuff.


 
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EPCOTExplorer
Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 13, 2014
Posts: 298
From: Miami, FL
Posted: 2015-01-05 11:25 am   Permalink

Quote:

On 2015-01-05 00:20, Hurricane Hayward wrote:
Quote:
On 2015-01-04 21:14, EPCOTExplorer wrote:
My complaints? No water on the Molokai windows! I loved that little effect and was disappointed not to see it running.


The water effect was working last week, so I'm assuming it's a temporary issue that will be fixed. I've seen it down from time to time over the years, but never for too long.

This and other issues like the garden are indicative of how much of a nightmare it must be to maintain such a unique facility. Things were actually a lot worse before the multimillion-dollar investment in capital improvements following the hurricane damage during the last decade. Anyone remember the leaky roof? Let's hope the continued popularity will allow profits to be rolled back into facility upkeep.

As mikehooker notes, it's unfortunate that out-of-town visitors only get a short time to enjoy all The Mai-Kai has to offer, only to find flaws in one area or another. Service and food/drink quality issues are certainly not as easy to forgive, but also more easily correctable. I know there's an ongoing commitment to QC in this area, so I'll trust that the appropriate systems will work. Meanwhile, I'll be happy to continue to sample all the drinks and make sure they're up to snuff.

I wonder what was wrong with it... It's a fairly simple effect, right? Just a pipe with holes cut at the correct spot?

And the leaky roof is still around, at least in the gift-shop. There's a big plastic bag right above your head as you enter, so as to catch the water. :-/

And I agree with you, to be honest. I'm happy they're improving, but I just want something so special to receive the care and quality it deserves to have. Mai Kai is a gem, regardless.
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Chip and Andy
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jul 13, 2004
Posts: 2277
From: Corner table, Molokai Lounge, Mai-Kai.
Posted: 2015-01-05 1:35 pm   Permalink

[quote]
On 2015-01-05 11:25, EPCOTExplorer wrote:
Quote:

I wonder what was wrong with it... It's a fairly simple effect, right? Just a pipe with holes cut at the correct spot?



Yes. The effect is simple.

The pumps that drive the effect, however, are a different story. They are almost as old as the Molokai and in need of replacement.

Quote:
I just want something so special to receive the care and quality it deserves to have. Mai Kai is a gem, regardless.



It is receiving the care and quality it deserves. But.....Huge restaurant, small maintenance staff, many small problems. Often the maintenance guys are simply outnumbered by the problems. The rain windows are a good example.... one pump driving the rain on eight windows, pumps starts to go bad (again) and the pressure doesn't get to the last two windows. Do you have rain on some windows, or turn off the pump and have rain effect on none of the windows? It's only until Thursday when the part for the pump arrives so by Friday it's all good for a while.

Repeat that judgement call on a thousand other little things that happen in a 58 year old restaurant, and that happen on an almost daily basis.

Again, not making excuses for things, just pointing out that there are a lot of things that can go wrong between yesterday and today and none of them are because there is a lack of care or upkeep.

And now you have some idea why Mr Levy's hair is grey.


 
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EPCOTExplorer
Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 13, 2014
Posts: 298
From: Miami, FL
Posted: 2015-01-05 7:56 pm   Permalink

[quote]
On 2015-01-05 13:35, Chip and Andy wrote:
Quote:

On 2015-01-05 11:25, EPCOTExplorer wrote:
Quote:

I wonder what was wrong with it... It's a fairly simple effect, right? Just a pipe with holes cut at the correct spot?



Yes. The effect is simple.

The pumps that drive the effect, however, are a different story. They are almost as old as the Molokai and in need of replacement.

Quote:
I just want something so special to receive the care and quality it deserves to have. Mai Kai is a gem, regardless.



It is receiving the care and quality it deserves. But.....Huge restaurant, small maintenance staff, many small problems. Often the maintenance guys are simply outnumbered by the problems. The rain windows are a good example.... one pump driving the rain on eight windows, pumps starts to go bad (again) and the pressure doesn't get to the last two windows. Do you have rain on some windows, or turn off the pump and have rain effect on none of the windows? It's only until Thursday when the part for the pump arrives so by Friday it's all good for a while.

Repeat that judgement call on a thousand other little things that happen in a 58 year old restaurant, and that happen on an almost daily basis.

Again, not making excuses for things, just pointing out that there are a lot of things that can go wrong between yesterday and today and none of them are because there is a lack of care or upkeep.

And now you have some idea why Mr Levy's hair is grey.



Right. I understand. I'm wondering though, what it would take to have the place running at full tilt? Is it a lack of investment and supplies? Is the Mai Kai, venerable as it is, too big for its own good?

I'm a Disney fan at heart... ops fascinates me.
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Chip and Andy
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jul 13, 2004
Posts: 2277
From: Corner table, Molokai Lounge, Mai-Kai.
Posted: 2015-01-06 06:53 am   Permalink

Quote:
Right. I understand. I'm wondering though, what it would take to have the place running at full tilt? Is it a lack of investment and supplies? Is the Mai Kai, venerable as it is, too big for its own good?

I'm a Disney fan at heart... ops fascinates me.




Full tilt..... that's hard to define when applied to a restaurant.

Disney has an advantage in this comparison by having back-ups and spares and extras of most things. If this widget breaks there is at least one more in a storage locker somewhere on the property.

The Mai Kai has two storage/maintenance rooms that aren't much bigger than your average walk-in closet. And a Storage facility down the road a bit that is most old decor and christmas decorations.

Then there is the difference in revenue streams...

Disney charges a pretty penny just to get in the gates.

There is no cover charge or minimum drink order to get in the Molokai.

And then the last major consideration..... Seasonal business. It is Snow-Bird season down here in Florida. The Mai Kai is busy every night of the week, two shows every night, three shows on Friday and Saturdays. In about three months they will be back to one show during the week, two on the weekends. In about five months they will switch back to 'summer hours' and be closed on Monday's. Monies have to be banked in the busy winter-time to carry through the slow summer time. This pump that drives the rain windows can be fixed for hundred bucks or replaced for a thousand (don't know how much pumps really cost). Well why don't we repair it now and replace it later. And then you are right back into the initial problem of many small things all adding up to overwhelm the limited support staff.

And while this is all interesting discussion about running a really big themed restaurant we are just entertaining ourselves with the discussion. The people who actually run the restaurant in question are doing something right because they just celebrated their 58th anniversary and all signs point to them making 59 successfully.


 
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howlinowl
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jul 20, 2008
Posts: 315
From: Port Saint Lucie, FL
Posted: 2015-01-06 08:00 am   Permalink

Also, the Mai Kai may only employ a maintanance guy for small things, and hire out the larger plumbing/refrigeration ect. items to a service company. The pump for the window effect went down, called the service company to repair. Parts or replacement pump on order. Refrigeration and stoves/ovens would be first priority to keep spares on hand (food and drink is where there money is at...window effect not so much). Also, there may be a cost factor involved. Maybe they're a bit over budget and need to cut back on some things. Electricity is one thing the pump uses, and the water is recurculating. However, the water supply needs to be replenished due to evaporation. I have a small fountain outside my house that I have to refill daily due to evaporation. I can't imagine what the water bill for the Mai Kai is. Ice machines, dishwashers, rain effect, gardens.... maybe they shut the water effect down at slower periods to save a bit of money.

howlinowl


 
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EPCOTExplorer
Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 13, 2014
Posts: 298
From: Miami, FL
Posted: 2015-01-06 08:19 am   Permalink

Quote:

On 2015-01-06 06:53, Chip and Andy wrote:
Quote:
Right. I understand. I'm wondering though, what it would take to have the place running at full tilt? Is it a lack of investment and supplies? Is the Mai Kai, venerable as it is, too big for its own good?

I'm a Disney fan at heart... ops fascinates me.




Full tilt..... that's hard to define when applied to a restaurant.

Disney has an advantage in this comparison by having back-ups and spares and extras of most things. If this widget breaks there is at least one more in a storage locker somewhere on the property.

The Mai Kai has two storage/maintenance rooms that aren't much bigger than your average walk-in closet. And a Storage facility down the road a bit that is most old decor and christmas decorations.

Then there is the difference in revenue streams...

Disney charges a pretty penny just to get in the gates.

There is no cover charge or minimum drink order to get in the Molokai.

And then the last major consideration..... Seasonal business. It is Snow-Bird season down here in Florida. The Mai Kai is busy every night of the week, two shows every night, three shows on Friday and Saturdays. In about three months they will be back to one show during the week, two on the weekends. In about five months they will switch back to 'summer hours' and be closed on Monday's. Monies have to be banked in the busy winter-time to carry through the slow summer time. This pump that drives the rain windows can be fixed for hundred bucks or replaced for a thousand (don't know how much pumps really cost). Well why don't we repair it now and replace it later. And then you are right back into the initial problem of many small things all adding up to overwhelm the limited support staff.

And while this is all interesting discussion about running a really big themed restaurant we are just entertaining ourselves with the discussion. The people who actually run the restaurant in question are doing something right because they just celebrated their 58th anniversary and all signs point to them making 59 successfully.

Well said. VERY well said. I would love to see Mai Kai running at Disney level quality, but I think that would improve impossible, unless unattainable wealth was suddenly bestowed on the place.

My bottom line: just fix up the woodwork on the exterior and that would go a long way. The face of the Mai Kai deserves to be just as wonderful and beautiful as the inside.
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