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Maori Village, West Palm Beach, FL (other)

Pages: 1 41 replies


Name:Maori Village
City:West Palm Beach
Status: unknown

Found these little gems yesterday. Yet again a location I can find no details on. I'm not sure if this was a bar, restaurant, motel or what. Was wondering if anyone has some info... Dusty..Sven...Sabu....anyone?

[ Edited by: uncle trav 2010-12-05 06:08 ]

This is what I found in old news reports.

Morai Village was a specialty restaurant and night club operated by Food Systems International, a subsidiary of Holiday Inn Inc.

It was located at 5706 Broadway and in 1972 S.T. Vandernoot was the nightclub manager.

Lory Maurice Johnston, a former owner of the Elbo Room and the Sea Breeze Restaurant on Fort Lauderdale beach and whose home movies were recreated in the legendary Spring Break flick "Where the Boys Are", is reported to have been "involved with other ventures", including Trader Jack's in Lauderdale-by the-Sea and Maori Village in West Palm Beach. Mr. Johnson passed away in 2006.

I have found a couple of ads for the Maori Village from 1970. The renderings look good but we all know how that can turn out all to often. Good to find something else for the location though. The current address has an empty lot where the restaurant may have been.


Nice find, those renderings look very promising! That A-frame on the left is dramatic and looks to be topped with a Tiki. Must find some photos.


On 2011-03-24 08:15, Dustycajun wrote:
That A-frame on the left is dramatic and looks to be topped with a Tiki. Must find some photos.

MUST, MUST! --ALL the A-frames seem to have Tikis (or Tekoteko, in Maori) on top! This place is an amazing meeting point between Tiki Modern: The Googie A-frame on the left, and original Tiki architecture with the Maori meeting house roof line right next to it!:

There seems to be a Tiki standing on the corner to the left, and then, behind it, under the A-roof, some panels with designs:

Or they were the entrance doors, and the mod A-frame was the porte cochere, modeled after the Mai Kai - from which many Florida Polynesias took their cues.

These kinda details are clearly based on something that existed, nobody would make that up. Fantastic find, Trav.

Thanks guys. It is always fun to pick up some small item from one of these forgotten restaurants and try and dig up the past. I never ever get tired of it. Hopefully more will turn up.

TikiB posted on Sun, Mar 27, 2011 2:35 PM

I searched Maori Village and 5706 Broadway in the Palm Beach Post archives. I could not find any pictures of Maori Village from the time it was open. All references to Maori Village are from 1970-1972. I did find articles on a restaurant named Gilligan's (named after the TV show). Which was at the location of the former Maori Village around 1980. There is pictures in the article of the A-frame entrance.


This article gives a description of the inside of Gilligan's which has a few Tiki touches. I am thinking they were left from when it was the Maori Village.


This location is a few miles from my house so I am getting pretty excited learning more about it. Thanks OP for starting this post.

Thanks for doing some digging TikiB. Here are the shots of the entrance and an ad for Gilligan's from the article both from 1982. It would be great to get some pics of what the location looks like now.

"Anyone who has ever seen them is thereafter haunted as if by a feverish dream" Karl Woermann

[ Edited by: uncle trav 2011-03-27 17:32 ]

Very cool, guys!

So if the "Maori Village" opened in 1970, the trend had peaked, and the operation didn't last long. An easy way to utilize some of the old decor for another, related theme concept would indeed have been "Gilligan's"-like the "Castaways". But the Tikis had to go, they were outdated! :)


here is one of bifcozz and my favourite menu covers.


pupu menu



Stunning! Thank you for posting.


Ooooh SH&# !!!!! (What's the emoticon for a jaw-drop to the floor, with eyes popping out and rolling around???)

TikiB posted on Tue, Mar 29, 2011 1:15 PM

WOW! What a great menu. Thanks for sharing pa'akiki! I cant wait till someone posts some pics of the inside of the Maori Village. It is only a matter of time before someone with pics stumbles upon this thread. I live about 5 miles from the location of the former restaurant so I will ask some of the older locals if they remember the restaurant. I grew up in Palm Beach County but this place closed a little before I was born.

TikiB posted on Tue, Mar 29, 2011 1:54 PM

I drove by the former location of the Maori Village yesterday after work. There was not much to take pics of but I took some anyway. I could not help but notice the irony of taking pics of an empty lot in the rain, with complete cloud cover and right next to a funeral home. I hope someone finds better pics from the past.

First pic is looking South bound on Broadway

Looking North On Broadway

This is from behind the restaurant looking at Broadway

This would be the back half of the restaurant

This is the back of the restaurant looking South towards Broadway

Outstanding !!!!!!!!!!!!! love how the clues start coming together. That menu is fantastic. Any way we can get a good closeup of the rendering from the menu and thanks for sharing.

Did the restaurant actually have doors like that?

On 2011-03-29 13:56, uncle trav wrote:
Any way we can get a good closeup of the rendering from the menu???
...and thanks for sharing!

I second that! This is what makes Tiki Central so great...

On 2011-03-29 15:59, Big Kahuna wrote:
Did the restaurant actually have doors like that?

I am sure it did! Look at the war club door handles:

The concept of making two profile Tikis into one whole figure was actually used in authentic Maori meeting houses:


here is the close up.

Thanks for the closeup. Looks like the rendering had all of the required elements for a classic Tiki palace. Great Polynesian inspired architecture, gas torches, a large moai, bridge over a stream at the entrance. large carved idols. I would say it is the total package. Is that a Lono carving on top of a high pole to the right of the main entrance? One of the news articles stated that the restaurant complex covered a city block. We need to find photos of the place just after it opened.

[ Edited by: uncle trav 2011-03-30 09:22 ]

Splendid! That moai looks Barney West-ish to me. And it's unclear what the entrance looked like, door-wise...which anyway could have changed completely from rendering to reality (a fact we have to consider when ogling over all those Tikis, too). I love the way this place showcased different architectural styles: Tiki Mod - Maori - Papua New Guinea: Like a little "Polynesian Cultural Center" And then, despite its name, addresses the customers in Hawaiian in the menu. :D

Could you possibly indulge us with a closer, legible scan of the "The Beginning of Our Story" text? Does it mention any info about the owner's inspirations, or is it pure Polynesian pop poetry?

Has anybody seen any mugs or matchbooks from this place? Postcards...INTERIORS !!!?

[ Edited by: bigbrotiki 2011-04-29 17:12 ]

I know that location very well. The last place that was there was a very rundown Chinese restaurant. I do remember it being Gilligans back in the 80's, but not for too long. I always had suspected it of being a Tiki place originally, but never knew for sure. The a-frame roof was long gone, and a flat roof took its place before the 80's.

Originally it was just adjacent to the "International Bazaar" which was a huge marketplace from the 50's that was uber-cool in styling. The Bazaar was pulled down years ago to make room for the Port of Palm Beach, but the Restaurant stayed and changed hands many times. I remember thinking that it looked like a place that could really give you a good case of food poisoning!

The neighborhood there is really bad, it is the part of West Palm Beach that is always shown on the TV show "COPS". I used to own a property just down the road from there, on 49th street, so I know the neighborhood very well. I dont recommend spending too much time doing on-site research, unless you are very well armed...... (but you can go down the street and see the famous Kentucky Fried Chicken that was selling crack out of the drive in window.....)

Well, we have Tiki temples that became strip clubs, biker bars...why not crack houses? :D

(authentic abandoned Maori meeting house)


Wow - I live about 20 minutes from there!! Who knew?? Only 40 years too late... Very cool stuff

Just to show how cool the neighborhood was around this restaurant, here is a shot of the Trylon International Bazaar, which was a block up the street, to the north.
It actually had a very Poly feel to the buildings, as they had the A-Frame roofs, and lots of palm trees.

There were actually alot of really cool bars and restaurants along this stretch of US Hwy 1 back in the 50's and 60's. Unfortunately most were leveled over the last 20 years.

Bahama Don, was this location at one time called "Shanghi"?? I used to live in North Palm Beach, just a few miles north of here. My parents and I ate there a few times in the '80s. Dad used to work at the Port, and it was somewhere close.

I remember the International Bazaar, but it was already closed by the time I moved there in the '80s. Had that tower thing that you used to be able to go up and site-see.

Also, somewhere up or down US1, there was "Carlson's Bar" that my grandparents co-owned with my grandmothers sister and husband back in the '50s. I always wanted to go check it out, but like you said, the neighborhood was a bit iffy (still is) so I never did. I got a bunch of glasses from my grandmother's sister's attic after her husband passed that I always wonder if they came from there.


I believe Shanghi was one of the names that the Chinese place had over the years. I recall it being open in the early 90's under another name, but cant remember what it was??

I remember seeing Carlson's Bar in some old land plats or something similar. It seems to me it was just north of the port area, possibly where the freight containers are stored now? I did some research on the area, as the property I owned was once the Golden Lion" restaurant, back in the 1930's and later the "Savoia" Italian restaurant. I remember there were alot of really cool places on that stretch of US, including some big "show" nightclubs. Would have been cool to see it back then.

Hmmmm... Cool. Then it probably was this place that I ate at back then. Don't remember any tikis inside back then. From what I can recall, it was pretty much a chinese interior. Maybe some bamboo, but I'm not sure. We only ate there a handful of times. I'm sure my dad probably got take-out there more often as it was close to work.

Your comment about the big show nightclubs brought back a memory of a story my mom told me. Somewhere along there was a burlesque club....not a strip club like today but the old style ones. One of the acts was a woman who had real long hair and would strip in a tank of water, all the while keeping her "goodies" hidden behind her long flowing locks.

I never pictured the area as being anything than what is was when I saw it. I always just thought that Carlson's was just a neighborhood watering hole. The glasses I have are heavy, Blue with white "Olympic"-type figures on the sides. Some still have a bit of gold around the top edge. I had written off the idea that they came from the bar, as they seem to be very high quality for use in a bar, but there are so many. I'd post a pic, but don't want to de-rail this thread anymore than I have already.


I recently stopped to check out the site and indeed nothing remains at 5706 Broadway except a few proud palm trees that may or may not have ties to the lot's exotic past.

I'll quiz a few locals to see if they (or their parents) have any physical evidence.

The same fate as the original Don The Beachcomber's and the original Trader Vic's. :)

The parking lot reminds of that old Joni Mitchell song...

Here is an ad for the Maori Village that features Hal Aloma and his Islanders. They also added a Tokyo Steakhouse.

I got a postcard somewhere from that Trylon International Bazaar that Bahama Don posted from down the street. Will have to add that.


On 2012-11-21 22:42, Dustycajun wrote:
The parking lot reminds of that old Joni Mitchell song...

Here is an ad for the Maori Village that features Hal Aloma and his Islanders. They also added a Tokyo Steakhouse.

I got a postcard somewhere from that Trylon International Bazaar that Bahama Don posted from down the street. Will have to add that.


Now there's a thread to revive, about a cool Tiki temple of which I would love to see some good photos from its heyday!

[ Edited by: bigbrotiki 2012-11-22 13:18 ]

Let's hope some photos show up from the newspaper archives. Until then, another ad with a different looking Tiki.


Another ad featuring the Aloha Lounge for the night people serving til 2 AM!


Found more better close up images of the Maori Village building shown before.

Look at those carvings, what a place!


If the place was really as elaborate as the rendering suggests, it still amazes me that there is no photographic evidence of it.

Found this facebook page of the PBA alumni of the 1972 Spring Banquet held at the Maori Village.



Very cool to see photos of the inside, unfortunately nothing on the outside.


[ Edited by: Jungle John 2015-02-28 23:39 ]

On 2011-03-29 08:18, pa'akiki wrote:
here is one of bifcozz and my favourite menu covers.

I do not want to spoil anything but I learned today that we will be able to see a life-size version of the Maori Village menu cover very soon. It is being used as wall decor in a new restaurant that is opening soon.

Also on view on page 158 of the book TIKI POP :)

(I believe the typo in "ENTERS" was fixed in the final version)

I visited Cane Rhum Bar & Caribbean Kitchen in Charleston, SC a few weeks ago to see the life-size version of the Maori Village menu they had made into a wall wrap. It's part of the decor inside their small tiki nook.


(Eight years late chiming in here - sorry) I grew up 17 blocks south of this restaurant, and one block west. I seem to remember going into it once as a kid but it was too expensive (and exotic!) for us to frequent as a family. The exterior did look like the renditions shown here, and I'll see if I can find a photo somewhere. I'm not sure what it looked like once you turned into the drive, but the facade on the street kept the same appearance throughout it's life from days of The Maori Village right up to it's days as Gilligan's. I remember when it became Gilligan's in the '80s, my mother and a few friends of hers from work would go there for happy hour once every few weeks. She said the drinks were strong, the bar snacks tasty, and the prices fair. By that point in time there would have been at least one prostitute on each block of broadway and plenty of guys standing on corners selling something to the cars that would slow down and motion them over. I left home when I was 18 (can you blame me???) and I'm not sure what happened after 1983. It is currently an empty lot, and the entire neighborhood has changed . . . . but the prostitutes and dealers are still there.

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