Sylvia Woods,the “Queen Of Soul Food”, who opened up a soul food restaurant called Sylvia’s 50 years ago in the heart of Harlem and turned it into a standby for foodies, celebrities tourists, politicians and neighbors alike, passed away today at age 86.
Her family said in a statement posted at the restaurant:
It is with great honor and profound sorrow that The Woods Family announces the passing of their Matriarch, Sylvia Woods, known to the world as the Queen of Soul Food, who died peacefully the age of 86 today at 4:50 p.m. at her Westchester home.
Ms. Woods was surrounded by a host of family and loved ones. Sylvia gallantly battled Alzheimer’s for the past several years, but never once lost her loving smile. Sylvia publicly announced at her 80th birthday celebration that she was retiring and passing the torch to her children and grandchildren whom have worked side by side with her and her late husband Herbert building a Soul Food empire for the past 50 years.
The Family is thankful for your prayers. In lieu of flowers please the family would appreciate donations made to the Sylvia and Herbert Woods Fund.
Media flocked the restaurant, located at 328 Lenox Avenue today—some of the Sylvia’s staff had to shoo away local news reporters, with one telling two police officers to forcibly remove one TV reporter to stop peering in the window. Harlem business owner and resident Briananthony Beasley stopped us, “I just ate there, what’s going on—did she pass?” and then mourned the loss. Beasley said, “She felt like the heart of Harlem. I’ve only lived here 4 years but I’ve eaten there probably 50 times.” He laughed, “That’s how good it was!” When asked what he ate, Beasley laughed again, “Soul food! [laughs] Catfish. I had the catfish, it was good.” Read More