Mai Kai Restaurant: History of a South Florida Institution | Clean Plate Charlie | South Florida | Broward Palm Beach New Times | The Leading Independent News Source in Broward-Palm Beach, Florida

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Mai Kai Restaurant: History of a South Florida Institution

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Back in 1969 Jack Thornton sold his share of the business and Bob passed away in 1989, but the Mai Kai is still run by Mireille Thornton and her son and daughter, Dave Levy and Kulani Thornton Gelardi. Dave is the General Manager and CEO and Kulani is the CFO.

While the restaurant has expanded immensely and the surrounding area has drastically changed, the Mai Kai has remained true to its original concept -- and that's probably why it's still successful.

"People know what to expect when they come here," said Dahlquist. "It's an escape from everyday life. You walk through those doors and you're in the South Pacific without traveling."

Currently, Mai Kai is getting ready to host some of this weekend's Hukilau events. As part of the festivities the restaurant will be bringing back three of its classic cocktails that are no longer on the menu. Also, the restaurant will be selling off its old chairs -- they upgraded to new ones a few years back -- for just $10 a pop. Hukilau guests will be offered first dibs.

Mai Kai is located at 3599 N. Federal Hwy. in Oakland Park. Call 954-563-3272, or visit

Follow Sara Ventiera on Twitter, @saraventiera.

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Sara Ventiera