Forty – two years ago the Harlem landmark, Hotel Cecil, had burned to the ground. Among the ashes was one of the legendary Jazz clubs, Minton’s Playhouse. That spot has stood empty until 2013 when business partners Alexander Smalls and Richard Parsons opened two distinct businesses. There was the Cecil, a 200 seat restaurant that was praised for its “Afro- Asian- American” food. And right next door is Minton’s, a jazz bar with nightly live entertainment that also serves light snacks.
The head chef for the Cecil, Joseph Johnson, has received almost non stop praise for his cunning mix of cuisine since the Cecil opened. Now Mr. Johnson, J.J. as he is known to everyone, will be moving next door as the owners of both businesses have decided to utilize the space better at Minton’s and combine great food with the amazing live jazz that gets hosted every night.
The owners want to give visitors to Minton’s the complete Harlem experience of the old days with J.J.’s food combinations accompanying great entertainment. The owners stated that visitors traditionally would dine at Cecils then walk next door to finish their evening. Now with this re-imagined vision the space at Cecil’s will be used as a rental space for large parties, weddings, special occasions, and corporate events.
Even though J.J., the head chef, doesn’t own any controlling interest in either business he has become known as the face of the Cecil and J.J. is happy that he will be able to take his creations to Minton’s preparing food for regulars and new visitors. The owners of both businesses are excited to re-imagine Minton’s as it would have been back in the golden days of Harlem.
This is one of the great things about the Harlem area. The willingness of businesses to reinvent themselves to forge their own versions of the best of Harlem spawned out of the history that Harlem has left behind. To read the whole article, please click here.