Richard Parsons, the former chairman of Citigroup who was chairman/CEO of Time Warner until he stepped down in 2007, has resurfaced in Harlem. He and wife Laura are opening two new uptown restaurants in Minton’s and The Cecil. Minton’s is a restoration of the famed 1930s/1940s Harlem jazz club Minton’s Playhouse. It will reside in the original location, redesigned as a contemporary jazz supper club. Next-door sister restaurant The Cecil will be an Afro-Asian-American brasserie that integrates the culinary traditions of the African Diaspora with traditional Asian and American cuisines. The Parsons have appointed their long-time friend and Cafe Beulah restaurateur Alexander Smalls as Executive Chef of both eateries. The Cecil opens September 23rd and Minton’s opens the following month.
The original Minton’s Playhouse opened in 1938 and became an outpost for good jazz from the likes of Thelonious Monk, Kenny Clarke, Charlie Christian, Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie took the stage and joined in regular jam sessions. Jazz will play a significant role in the new Minton’s. “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,” said Parsons, who 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.”