Broward County

Historic Polynesian-Themed Mai-Kai Restaurant to Reopen in South Florida

The Mai-Kai was forced to close in October 2020 when a plumbing incident flooded the kitchen and caused catastrophic damage

NBC Universal, Inc.

South Florida's historic Polynesian-themed Mai-Kai restaurant will be making a comeback after flood damage forced its closure last year.

The Thornton family, who has owned and operated the iconic restaurant in Oakland Park since 1956, announced Wednesday that they've found investors to help them reopen.

The Mai-Kai was forced to close in October 2020 when a plumbing incident flooded the kitchen and caused catastrophic damage.

The family said close to $5 million will go into giving the kitchen a full renovation and restoring the property to its historical condition.

The Barlington Group, a South Florida-based real estate investment and development company, and Mad Room Hospitality, the proprietors of Ball and Chain, Los Altos and Taquerias El Mexicano, are teaming up for the reopening.

"We are very excited for this partnership and eagerly anticipate reopening our doors and welcoming back our loyal fan base to enjoy our delicious food, tropical drinks, thrilling entertainment, and unique ambiance that transports visitors to the South Seas," said Kulani Thornton Gelardi, daughter of owner Mireille P Thornton.

"Mai-Kai represents a similar project in that nature that truly the restaurant is an iconic venue, not just for South Florida, but for the United States and the world, and it's an opportunity to preserve that legacy and heritage," said Bill Fuller of the Barlington Group.

The pending reopening date is scheduled to be announced after the restoration and repairs are complete.

The restaurant was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2015.

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