GRAND RAPIDS, MI — The door to a tropical paradise opens in downtown Grand Rapids on Saturday, Oct. 19.
That’s when Max’s South Seas Hideaway, a monumental new tiki-themed restaurant, 58 Ionia Ave. SW, will welcome its first guests.
Max’s is a passion project for owners Mark Sellers, founder of HopCat; Martin Cate, a James Beard award-winning author, bar owner and expert mixologist; and Gecko, a renowned Hawaii-based tiki and Polynesian artist.
A team of skilled tradespeople and artists, working in conjunction with local contractors Wolverine Construction and Phoenix Construction, has spent months transforming the historic three-story building into a Polynesian Pop fantasy world. Max’s will also feature Sellers’s collection of mid-century and modern tiki artifacts— one of the largest collections of its kind in the world.
“When you step inside Max’s, you’ll enter a fantasy world unlike anything previously seen in Grand Rapids,” said Sellers, the creative visionary behind TikiCat in Kansas City, Missouri — named Best Tiki Bar in the World in 2017 by Critiki.com. “Everything from the music, to the service, tropical cocktails, artwork, and gourmet food is being created to transport guests to a place far from their day-to-day life. Our goal is for people to forget the outside world exists, if only for an hour or two.”
Guests will have a variety of fully immersive dining and drinking options: at one of three custom bars, inside one of several semi-private tiki huts, in an intimate dining room, or in one of two private dining areas. With a cocktail menu created by Cate and a gourmet food menu from Chef Joseph Peebles, Max’s will also be an exotic escape for the palate.
Cate co-authored “Smuggler’s Cove: Exotic Cocktails, Rum, and the Cult of Tiki” with his wife Rebecca. The book won the 2017 James Beard award in the beverage category and is considered a bible of sorts for tiki history and tropical cocktail recipes.
His menu at Max’s includes hand-made classics like the Mai Tai and Zombie along with specialty cocktails created just for Max’s using fresh tropical fruits and juices, house-made ingredients, top-shelf rums, and other premium spirits. Peebles’ food menu will include a classic Pu Pu Platter of shareable Polynesian-inspired appetizers, fresh seafood selections, dry-aged steaks, tasty desserts, as well as vegan and vegetarian items.
“Max’s will be the largest-scale tiki restaurant to open anywhere in the world in decades, and will put Grand Rapids on the map for ‘tiki tourists’ and fans around the world,” said Cate, who owns several other award-winning tiki bars including Smuggler’s Cove in San Francisco, Hale Pele in Portland, Oregon, Lost Lake in Chicago, and False Idol in San Diego. “More importantly, we want Max’s to serve as a ‘hidden paradise’ for our local guests to enjoy with friends and family.”
Later this year, Max’s will also open its own ceramic studio where custom-designed tiki mugs and other ceramic items will be manufactured for sale inside the restaurant and through Max’s online store. The opportunity to hideaway at Max’s will be extended further in 2020, when a boutique tiki-themed hotel opens on its third floor.
Max’s will be open 4 p.m.-midnight Sunday through Thursday, and 4 p.m.-2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Dining reservations will be accepted online via MaxsTiki.com beginning at 5 a.m. Sept. 17. Reservations are highly recommended, but not required.