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[…]
Pecha Kucha is a worldwide series of presentation all with the same format: 20 images which each displaying for 20 seconds. I decided to apply to do a presentation thinking it would be easy. I’ve done many presentations of various lengths. I was wrong. First, what was I going to present about? Cocktails? How I Read more about Swanky’s Tiki Pecha Kucha[…]
During the west coast book tour, and actually during Tiki Oasis, I stepped away for an hour with Adrian “Polynesian Pop” Eustaquio to do an interview for his podcast. It was great fun to talk history in depth with an old friend. We discuss the Mai-Kai, Hukilau, Don the Beachcomber, and current Tiki trends. Give Read more about Inside the Desert Oasis Room Podcast[…]
Mariano Licudine didn’t get the coverage I wanted in the book. I just was too pressed for time. I hope the full story gets written. The Thorntons did something rare and amazing with Mariano, they put a spotlight on him. He wasn’t an anonymous staff member hidden in the kitchen as were most bartenders at Read more about Mariano Licudine – “The Houdini of the Liquids”[…]
The Mai-Kai created the Happy Talk newsletter to send out to the snowbirds back home to help keep them in their minds to return. All the stories about the girls are very tongue in cheek and this one is a fine example. This is the first issue. Good to see Lester’s Diner mentioned in the Read more about Donna – Happy Talk January 1963[…]
A nice article on Tales of the Cocktail about drinking clubs at Tiki establishments. There is a chapter in my book on the Mai-Kai’s Okole Maluna Society, the originator of the idea. Best quote in the book about the Society by Bob van Dorpe: “I think we killed a few people.” Order the book here. Read more about The History, Mystery and Community of Tiki Bar Loyalty Clubs[…]
An interesting bit about the history of one of the Mai-Kai’s rivals, the South Pacific in Hollandale Florida. None of the people I interviewed considered this place, or any other Polynesian restaurant in the area, as a true rival. Like Western Sizzler is a rival of Ruth’s Chris. The Mai-Kai was far and away in a Read more about South Pacific Hollandale Florida Video[…]
March 1964 image from the Mai-Kai’s “Happy Talk” newsletter. The Mai-Kai was the backdrop to many ad campaigns.
Mai-Kai owner Robert Thornton in an American Express ad in 1987.