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African Classical Revival: Richard Parsons Leads Harlem Jazz Renaissance With Mintons

Richard Parsons is one of the most distinguished African-American business people making their marks in the past few decades. Parsons has many prominent business accolades; from being closely associated with the Rockefellers, to being CEO of Time Warner and then CEO of Citigroup, Richard has unequivocally proven he’s a capable businessman. Now, Parsons will be trying his hand at the restaurant business.

Parsons and his wife Laura are opening two new restaurants in Harlem, Minton’s and The Cecil. Minton’s Playhouse was a popular jazz club in Harlem, which started in the ’30s and quickly pioneered a movement in modern jazz. Legends including Thelonious Monk, Kenny Clarke, Charlie Christian, Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie often took the stage and joined in regular jam sessions. According to Parsons:

“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.”

Parsons look to revive the jazz scene by providing an upscale jazz venue paired with a great dining experience. He and Laura have tapped their longtime friend, Alexander Smalls, as Executive Chef, and he’s said to be creating an “Afro-Asian-American [menu], [that] will integrate the culinary traditions of the African Diaspora with traditional Asian and American cuisines.”

The new Minton’s and, sister restaurant, The Cecil are scheduled to open in October. For more info, go to


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