MIST HARLEM is…Total Entertainment!

MIST is…the sweet smell of country morning dew. MIST is…as refreshing as a seaside stroll on a breezy tropical isle. (If this is beginning to sound like the perfect get-away vacation, read on). MIST is also an acronym for My Image Studios. And you can find MIST uptown in Harlem, New York City! Located in the Kalahari Condominium at 40 West 116th Street, between Lenox and Fifth Avenues, MIST HARLEM is a culturally-blended, multi-purpose venue that houses a café-restaurant-bar-theatre-gallery-event space. No sidewalk café? No worries. The Terrace at MIST, which is opened seasonally, provides an ideal place outdoors where you can wine and dine al fresco, all while feasting on some spice-infused Jamaican style Jerk To Go. Indeed, MIST HARLEM is…a total entertainment experience!

Early risers, and late comers who visit The Café at MIST will find a comfortable and cozy retreat offering great coffee, and a cornucopia of fresh sandwiches, soups, pastries, muffins, and salads—all served with a warm and friendly smile. For lunch, Sunday Brunch, and dinner, The Restaurant at MIST has something on the menu for every appetite—big or small. It serves a modern American cuisine—drawn from a culturally-rich, well-seasoned history of immigrants. The menu offers an assortment of small plates and entrees that include traditional macaroni & cheese, grilled octopus, fried calamari, chicken, lamb, fish, and southern-styled shrimp & grits. As with the café and terrace, The Restaurant at MIST prides itself on serving organically- and locally grown foods that are free of growth hormones and genetically-modified organisms (GMO’s). If you find yourself feeling a little stressed-out after a hard day at work, have no fear. Simply make a bee line to The Bar at MIST, and indulge. The bar serves an array of international wines, sparkling wines, beers, and cocktails. And chances are you’ll find the décor rather urbane and relaxing.

MIST Theatre boasts a state-of-the-art event space—with an impressive roster of A-Listers in tow. It recently served as the backdrop for Lupito Nyong’o in Conversation with Michaela Angela Davis. Nobody author, Marc Lamont Hill held his book signing and a discussion at MIST Theatre. And One Hundred Black Men, Inc., celebrated its Founders’ Day Ceremony and 52nd Anniversary at MIST. My own introduction to MIST came this past May, when it hosted The Duke Ellington Study Conference and Beyond Category Awards Champagne Brunch. I was fortunate to have been invited to the event, which highlighted the illustrious career of Carmen de Lavallade, recipient of the 2016 Duke Ellington Award. More recently, I attended another cultural event at MIST Theatre, appropriately entitled Harlem is…Dance, an exhibition that celebrated three Harlem dance icons—Marie Brooks & The Pan-Caribbean Dance Theater; Ruth Williams & The Ruth Williams Dance Studio; and Dele Husbands of the Harlem-based Forces of Nature Dance Theatre Company.

On the day of this interview, MIST Marketing Director, Ashon McCollin, took time away from his busy schedule to sit down and answer some questions for me:

Sandhi: MIST Harlem’s all-in-one concept is quite unique and progressive. How do you plan to keep an event space of this caliber in the spotlight, and ahead of the curve?

Ashon: Yes it is quite unique and progressive. The owners wanted to create a place that would provide complete entertainment, a place where you could come and make it an all-day affair. Right now, we’re in a class all by ourselves. We’re doing aggressive marketing in order to attract a diversified clientele. We will continue to connect downtown with Harlem.

Sandhi: What other types of events are planned for MIST Harlem?

Ashon: We’re hosting more Day Parties and Brunch parties, and working more consistently to present more live music events, more sports-themed events, as well as more live theatre, anything that’s culturally enriching. So, we’re working with promoters who will be able to attract the different demographics of the population that we appeal to. We’ve created relationships with a few community theaters such as New Heritage Theatre and the Public Theatre. And we have also partnered with and are collaborating regularly with Community Works, which is an amazing cultural and arts outreach organization. For instance, all of that wonderful art work displayed in our gallery are from local Harlem artists.

Sandhi: A well-known Broadway musical director, who lives in Harlem, recently told me that there is a new cultural renaissance taking place in Harlem. Do you agree?

Ashon: Yes, I totally agree. You can feel it happening. There is a vibrant rebirth taking shape all around—artistically, musically, and creatively, here in Harlem, and MIST has an important role to play in this rebirth because it is at the epicenter of it all.

Sandhi: Tell us a little bit about who you are, your background, and how you came to be Marketing Director at MIST Harlem.

Ashon: Well. I’m a 2007 graduate of Long Island University, with a BA in Media Arts, and a minor in Business Management. I started out in music, working at KISS-FM, which is no longer around. Then I moved into social media and saw how I could combine both of these interests. I started freelancing and working with recording artists. And now, I’m here, where I hope my education and experience will allow me to do my best work in marketing and promoting MIST Harlem. I want MIST to be the first place people think of when they come to Harlem.

At the end of this interview, when asked where he wanted to be photographed, Ashon promptly led me to the art gallery, and positioned himself in front of art work created with love, by gifted, emerging Harlem artists. From the look of it, Mister Ashon McCollin was definitely in his element. Just like Harlem, MIST is a world within itself. You have to enter it in order to experience it. So, the next time you’re in New York City, take a trip on the #2 or #3 subway train uptown to 116th Street. Be bold and adventurous. Visit the world of MIST HARLEM!

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A New York City-based actress, cabaret entertainer, writer, Sandhi Smalls Santini is a Communications and Theatre Arts graduate from Howard University, Washington, DC, with subsequent studies in Human Rights from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, NYC. She is a member of Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists ( SAG-AFTRA), and The League of Professional Theatre Women (LPTW). Sandhi Smalls Santini currently performs a one-woman stage show and cabaret act inspired by the life and times of Eartha Kitt. Entitled “Eartha, La Chanteuse”, both works were conceived and written by Ms. Santini.

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