Cecil Usher, Mindful Hospitality Group Celebrating African American Bartending in Pittsburgh


Before therapy became less stigmatized and people needed to get something off their chest, they would take themselves to a place where everybody or no one knew their name. Imagine a glass slides down the bar in the cliche, tv trope manner to the sulking patron. When they felt there was nowhere else to go, people poured out their troubles to the man behind the barback. Sam Malone asks you about your troubles with a towel cleaning glass and outcomes-wise proverbs from a man who has made mistakes.

Pittsburgh’s own Mayday Malone is Cecil Usher, an aspiring business owner who saw an opportunity in the steel city with its growth in the hospitality industry and decided to see if he could serve up something new.

Mindful Hospitality Group was started by Cecil and his partner Catherine (Cat) Canon in 2019, with the hopes of transforming an industry that they saw problems within. Cecil described trying to get into the bartending industry as an African American. There was a lot of gatekeeping he had to navigate around. He had to work twice as hard as others to reach the level of success he was striving for. He wants Mindful Hospitality Group to address and work towards solutions to these problems. 

Mindful Hospitality Group works primarily with restaurants and bars and focuses on consulting with owners, staff, and management to curate an enhanced customer experience. They also work in partnerships or on their own to organize unique events. Cecil emphasizes mindfulness because of their pragmatic approach to reducing gatekeeping from the community and anyone trying to get involved in the bartending world.

Cecil is taking his passion, experience, love for serving people and helping the community to make another great generation of individuals who’ll be there when you need someone to slide the glass down to your end of the bar.

Mindful Hospitality Group celebrates black excellence with various African American bartenders from around the city. These professionals are dedicated to their craft and look forward to showing off their talent.

If you would like to experience and even taste the heritage, history, and craft of these excellent bartenders, then join Cecil and Cat at Emersons in Market Square on Monday, February 28th, from 6-9 pm. Meet them at the Make Moves that Start Movements event will feature six original cocktails from Pittsburgh’s African American bartending community. Sponsored by Möet Hennessey and is benefiting 1Hood Media, they are looking to build liberated communities through art, education, and social justice.