The History

The History of Minton's Playhouse

Arguably, America’s greatest cultural contribution to the world has been jazz music. It may be argued with equal force that one of the most important shrines in the history of jazz was Minton’s Playhouse in Harlem.

Minton’s was the place where Bebop was born; the place, really, where the foundations of modern jazz were established. Founded in 1938 by the saxophonist Henry Minton (from whom the establishment took its name), Minton’s Playhouse became, over the next decade, the setting for a revolution in jazz.


Virtually everyone who was anyone in the world of jazz made his or her way to Minton’s during this period. Thelonious Monk, Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Charlie Christian and Kenny Clarke were regular performers there. In addition, Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Benny Goodman, Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young, Johnny hodges, Ben Webster, Sarah Vaughan, Carmen McRea, Billy Eckstine, Erroll Garner, Gene Krupa, Miles Davis, Art Tatum, Bill Evans and Art Blakey, to name just some of the giants, all played at Minton’s.


While Minton’s is most famous for the seminal role it played in the Bebop revolution of the 1940s, the club had a vital existence through the early 1960s as a magnet for musicians who wanted to jam and continued to operate until 1974, when a fire led to the abandonment of the Cecil Hotel where Minton’s was housed. Nonetheless, in recognition of its significance in American history and culture, Minton’s Playhouse has been listed on both the National and the New York State Register of Historic Places.


It was there, in this rather smallish Harlem nightclub, that these musicians, in the words of the immortal Ralph Ellison, “formulated the chordal progressions and the hide-and-seek melodic methods of modern jazz.”

     In other words, Minton’s was not just the birthplace of Bebop, it was the place where all of what we have come to know as modern jazz was incubated.   

The Experience

The perfect way to enjoy Minton’s Playhouse and The Cecil Steakhouse:
The Rebirth Of Cool: A Harlem Jazz Experience

People often ask, ‘Should I have dinner at Minton Playhouse or The Cecil Steakhouse?’ While we encourage our patrons to try whichever establishment they are most drawn to – the truth is that if you are looking to enjoy a full, fun, one of a kind experience, then the answer is to spend your evening in both.


Combining Minton’s Playhouse and The Cecil Steakhouse is about bringing together two unique experiences to create something that you’re not going to find anywhere else. Let us paint a picture for you, of the perfect experience for you, your friends, your family, your date, your significant other.

Let The Experience Begin

Begin your night at the Lounge in The Cecil’s Steakhouse. Located directly at the entrance, you will be greeted by a Piano Bar, live music, and cocktails. The lounge is the best way to start the night, with an ambiance that is upbeat, energetic, light-hearted, and lively. It is the perfect way to put you and your party in the right mood. It has been described as a place where you feel that you can relax and truly let loose. With the music playing and the drinks flowing, you’ll be prepared for the fun, sensual evening to come.

Moving On

When you move into The Cecil Steakhouse for dinner, you will quickly realize that The Cecil is not your grandfather’s steakhouse. The steakhouse is a modern, upscale haven in Harlem. Nobody is snobby here, you will not find the traditional stuck-up attitude that so many steakhouses have fallen victim to. The Cecil Steakhouse is about fully engaging the five senses. You will be in our warm dining room that houses a modern décor of paintings and sculptures by world-renowned  artists. You will hear music that will keep the energy and fun from the lounge going – jazz, R&B, salsa, contemporary and more. When your food and drinks arrive you will taste and smell the food that has been described as “outstanding, and inventive”, as “flavor combinations that are hard to find elsewhere” by Zagat and so many others. An unmatched dining experience that you and your party will never forget. The Cecil Steakhouse is an orgasm for the all the senses.

NEXT: A Martin Scorsese Moment…Think Goodfellas

After you’ve finished dinner, if you’ve requested, you will be brought over to Minton’s Playhouse in a fashion that can only be described as a Goodfellas Moment straight out of the Martin Scorsese movie. To get to Minton’s from The Cecil Steakhouse, you never have to step a foot outside. You will be going through our kitchen, through a privileged area, reserved for those who want the full Cecil and Minton’s experience. As you are guided through the bustle of the kitchen, you will feel that you are truly being transported from the present, our modern steakhouse, to another era – to the most iconic and oldest jazz club in the United States.

NEXT: Welcome To Minton’s Playhouse.
The Most Iconic Jazz Club In The World

When the doors to the Minton’s Playhouse open, you and your guests will be seated in a space already reserved for you – Since you already had dinner and drinks at The Cecil there will be no minimum drink fee, just the ticket price.




We must take care of our wonderful musicians.



Minton’s Playhouse will bring you to the 40s and 50s with its unique design, lighting, ambiance and music. The walls are adorned with portraits of all the jazz greats who have raised the Minton’s stage: Thelonious Monk, Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday and so many more.

The energy and spirit of the Playhouse are a unique and a perfect way to continue your already festive evening. Minton’s Playhouse is home to only the exceptional musicians who will sweep you away with outstanding performances. The highest quality music with the highest quality service and drinks in a fun, one of a kind establishment.

An Experience Like No Other In The World

The Cecil Steakhouse and Minton’s Playhouse are each remarkable and memorable in their own way but together they will give you and your party an experience they will never, ever forget.