By Derrel “Jazz” Johnson
Legendary businessman Dick Parsons reopens a national treasure and in the process, creates a masterpiece with chef Alexander Smalls
Few can argue that Richard Parsons is one of the most influential and successful businessmen in the country. The former CEO of Citigroup, Parsons has been involved in some of the most ambitious projects in the country. Now partnered with chef Alexander Smalls, this dynamic duo is creating waves in Harlem and the world with their two new projects – Minton’s and The Cecil. Minton’s, opened October 18th, showcases top musicians and is helping to put Harlem back on the map as America’s Jazz mecca. And The Cecil is shaking things up in New York City’s culinary world, taking fusion cuisine to the next level. You know a restaurant is a happening place when people ask you ‘have you been there yet?’, and ‘why not!’
Originally opened in 1938, the original Minton’s Playhouse quickly became one of the most influential jazz clubs not only in Harlem, but the world. In its many years of operation, Minton’s Playhouse saw some of the greatest jazz musicians grace its stage, including Thelonious Monk, Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie. Now more than 75 years later, the newly minted Minton’s features nightly live jazz performances from a house band chosen by music director Danny Mixon. If you want to get a seat at what is undoubtedly one of the greatest jazz venues in the world, make a reservation! If interested in dining at Minton’s, call 212-243-2222 or visit the website at www.Minton- sHarlem.com.
Next door to Minton’s, located at 210 West 118th street, is The Cecil – an Afro- American brasserie. At The Cecil, one finds an integration of traditions in cooking from the African Diaspora with familiar Asian and American dishes. The Cecil has about twice the seating room of Minton’s, approximately 140 seats, and with fusion restaurants being the current rage of New York City, this venue is becoming one of the city’s most popular. While Minton’s is a showcase for jazz with a high-end dining experience, The Cecil features upbeat progressive music designed for a more social dining experience. “I pride myself on creating dishes that introduce guests to unique foods, while maintaining a level of comfort,” says Chef Smalls. “My hope is that every diner feels a sense of satisfaction, excitement and adventure when walking both in and out of Minton’s & The Cecil.”
Richard Parsons says about the opening of the new restaurants. “As an avid jazz lover for years, it has always been a dream of mine to open a supper club where guests can enjoy the sounds of great musicians while dining on great food in elegant surroundings.” A lover of Jazz, Mr. Parsons is also Chairman of the Jazz Foundation of America. “The culture and atmosphere that once defined Harlem’s night scene and made it a destination, has waned through the years but Harlem is experiencing a renaissance and our hope is that these two restaurants will help solidify and propel this rebirth.”
Both Minton’s and The Cecil are destinations for those seeking to have a drink with a client, a loved one, or even a place to take a date. Both bars feature international wine and spirits, and both restaurants feature signature cocktails designed to fit the personality of the venue. The Cecil is open seven days a week for both lunch and dinner. For more information or to make reservations, call 212-866-1262 or visit the website at www.TheCecilHarlem.com.