About the Book
In 1956 a few brash young men created the Mai-Kai by way of a coup at Don the Beachcomber’s and went on to eclipse the old guard restaurants. The Mai-Kai became the playground of celebrities and playboys, and the beautiful women working there used it as a jumping-off point for adventure and fame. Through first-hand stories, images, and ephemera, this book documents the history and enduring legacy of the pinnacle of the Mid-Century Tiki era. This is the story of how the Mai-Kai and its iconic elements came to exist, and the tales of the men and women who shaped it and went on to shape the world.
Hundreds of rare and unseen images
Tales from those who lived them
New insights into the father of Tiki
Adventures of the Mai-Kai maidens
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Latest Blog entries
Bunny Yeager was an asset to the Mai-Kai. Many of the girls who worked in the Molokai Bar were also models for Bunny and others. Myrna Weber, first Mystery Girl was a model for Bunny and appeared in Playboy. Nani Maka was also a Mystery Girl and Polynesian dancer and posed for Bunny as “Bonnie Read more about 1962 Bunny Yeager Photo of Chris Darling[…]
No, this post is not about the Mai-Kai’s plans to open new restaurants in New York City or San Diego, those those are interesting and there may have been more. Nor is this post about the Mai Kai theater in Livovia, MI. This is about a new Mai Kai restaurant I recently discovered, but first Read more about Another Mai Kai[…]
Recently added to the Mai-Kai archive, an image from someone traveling through Fort Lauderdale in 1966. You can see their mid-60s era Mopar parked tot he right.
There is no excerpt because this is a protected post.
I’ll be sharing the incredible history of the Mai-Kai Mystery Drink February 16th at Inuhele, the Atlanta Tiki Tour Weekender. The creation of the iconic Mystery Drink involves many now-famous people such as Johnny Carson, Bettie Page, Bunny Yeager, Kui Lee, and Mariano Licudine. The story of its invention, evolution, and promotion is a fascinating Read more about Atlanta Tiki Weekender[…]
We had a great time at Tiki Oasis in 2017. This interview with Sassy Stiletto was much fun. I love all the colorful and famous people walking past behind us. Especially Judd Finklestien of the Mai-Kai Gents as I had just mentioned him! Also look for Charles Phoenix.
Leonce Picot 1932 – 2018 When I began researching the Mai-Kai book in earnest, the first person I tracked down to interview was Leonce Picot. At the time I thought he was the first general manager, but he informed me otherwise. He was an assistant manager from 1957 to 1967. He had been involved with Read more about Leonce Picot 1932-2018[…]
First general manager of the Mai-Kai Bob Van Dorpe was friends with Herb Kane since their time together at the Chicago Institute of Art. They shared a love of Polynesia and when Herb left the advertising world to live in Hawaii, It was Bob whom he lived with, and later, it was Bob living on Read more about Herb Kane and Bob Van Dorpe[…]
I had never heard of the Fiji dining room at the Mai-Kai. No one I talked to ever mentioned it. I had never thought to name the 5 dining rooms that the articles said were in the original restaurant, but even if I did I might have assumed they included Garden as a dining room Read more about Mystery of the Fiji Room[…]
The original bar at the Mai-Kai was not the Molokai Bar, but the Surfboard Bar. It was made from real, 30 foot long wooden surfboards from Hawaii. It featured a diorama behind it that was animated. The sun rose and set as did the moon. There was a little village and a fire would start. Read more about Remembering the Surfboard Bar[…]