The Mai-Kai that almost was…In 1959, after Jack and Robert L. Thornton created a Polynesian hit in Fort Lauderdale, Florida with their Mai-Kai Restaurant, they bought six acres in San Diego’s booming Mission Valley resort area for another.
Across the road in what were once meandering cow pastures, the May Company built their ultra-modern shopping center, and down the San Diego River a mile or so was the new Hanalei Hotel.
After five years of attempting to re-zone their property just west of Bowlero Lanes (now, the Scottish Rite Center), Reed Thornton gave up and sold to Chrysler Corporation — for a profit of $100,000.
Not that long ago, there was still a Hummer dealership on the property.
Can you imagine if San Diego had its own Mai-Kai Restaurant since the 1960s?