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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)
Grand Member (6 years)  

Joined: Sep 20, 2009
Posts: 696
From: Flagler Beach, FL
Posted: 2011-06-16 12:46 pm   Permalink

Hukilau 2011 at the Mai-Kai Part 4 of 4

In the interest of urban archaeology, I forced myself away from drink, food and the lovely Molokai Maidens (only for a while) and made my way over to the Mai-Kai memorabilia display...

Pia Dahlquist, Mai-Kai’s Sales and Marketing Director, assembled and patiently hosted the displays. She kindly posed for this photo last Friday at the Bahia Mar Commodore Ballroom...

Kern Mattei, Mai-Kai’s General Manager, took time out to greet his Sunday Hukilau guests...

Ron Licudine, son of the original Mai-Kai master mixologist, Mariano Licudine, was there to talk about his Dad and their life experiences. Here Ron posed after signing my Hukilau poster...

Ron inscribed “Dad would be so proud” on the poster, so I asked him to explain why. Two reasons: (1) the Mai-Kai’s faithful adherence to his Dad’s original drink recipes to this very day, and (2) the presence of so many Hukilau participants supportive and appreciative of the Mai-Kai and all that it represents.

From the archives, here’s Mariano Licudine pouring Derby Daiquiris, a drink that he invented (pardon the photo angularity necessary to avoid camera flash)...

Here’s a closeup photo of the special glassware designed for the Derby Daiquiri; Ron explained that the Mai-Kai eventually gave up serving in these, as the stems kept breaking off at the jockey’s head...

More recognition of Ron’s Dad for the Derby Daiquiri...

Mariano Licudine was present when the Mai-Kai opened in December 1956 and retired in 1979. He passed away the following year, in 1980.

After enough archaeology, Ron and I returned to the Molokai Bar to toast his Dad with a couple of Derby Daiquiris, joined in the toast by Martin Cate. The Derby Daiquiri is a mild drink, but one I really like. Ron approved the flavor profile as true to the original, observing only that the ice in the drinks we were served was blended a bit finer than his Dad prescribed.

As the afternoon waned, Patrick Kenneson, the stalwart Mai-Kai Service Captain who had faced without flinching overwhelming Hukilau hordes at dinner show time, took me aside for a special tour of the private employee lounge. There we were joined by Angel Vega, the Mai-Kai's Maitre D’, who has worked at the Mai-Kai since 1965 (Angel on the left, Patrick on the right)...

Patrick’s association with the Mai-Kai goes back to his youth, when he played on the championship-winning Mai-Kai softball team (see Patrick, the “wild-man” standing on second row, extreme left)...

Here’s evidence of Patrick’s golf prowess (bottom plaque, top of 1982 winner list)...

Centered on a wall in the employee’s lounge was this memorial plaque dedicated by the Mai-Kai employees to Bob Thornton, original owner of the Mai-Kai along with his brother, Jack...

This dinner menu from long ago was framed and posted nearby (photo angled to avoid camera flash)...

On Sunday I didn’t see one individual, Tricia Cline, the Mai-Kai’s Gift Shop Manager, but had met her at the Mai-Kai Tiki Treasure Bazaar booth in the Bahia Mar Commodore Ballroom...

If I correctly recall, Tricia has grandchildren participating in the Mai-Kai’s Polynesian show.

I’m very grateful to Hukilau for the opportunity to have met and mingled with the Mai-Kai staff. Among them you get a powerful sense of ‘ohana. I salute them for keeping alive an exceedingly rare time tunnel into our tiki past.

I read JOHN-O’s concluding thoughts on the Mai-Kai experience and thought them particularly eloquent...

JOHN-O (on the right), along with Caltiki Brent, in the Bahia Mar Commodore Ballroom


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