CBS2-Header-Logo WFAN 1010WINS WCBS tiny WLNYLogo

News

Sylvia Woods, Founder Of Iconic Harlem Restaurant, Dead At 86

'Queen of Soul Food' Remembered As 'American Legend' By Rep. Charlie Rangel
Sylvia Woods (credit: CBS 2)

Sylvia Woods (credit: CBS 2)

TRI-STATE NEWS HEADLINES

From our newsroom to your inbox weekday mornings at 9AM.
Sign Up

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Sylvia Woods, who founded the famed Harlem restaurant ‘Sylvia’s’ has passed away.

Woods, 86, died peacefully at her Mount Vernon home surrounded by family and loved ones, the family said in a statement.

The woman dubbed the “Queen of Soul Food” had been battling Alzheimer’s for several years.

Local elected officials, including Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Rep. Charles Rangel reacted to Woods’ passing and remembered her as a woman who “had a way with people.”

“Everyone that she met was the most important guest that she had in her dining room and the constant coming back to the table and smiling and giving extra orders. No one could develop the Sylvia touch that she had,” Rangel told 1010 WINS.

The iconic restaurant on Lenox and 127th street is a true American story, Rangel said, calling Woods an “American legend.”

Sylvia’s known for serving staples of Southern cooking, including fried chicken, collard greens and cornbread became a destination for tourists and locals in Harlem alike. Rangel was also especially pointed in talking about what the restaurant had to offer.

“As far as I’m concerned, you haven’t had breakfast until you’ve had breakfast at Sylvia’s,” he said.

Bloomberg also reiterated what Rangel had to say, calling Woods “a legend.”

“Sylvia Woods came to New York City with a dream and her dedication made it a reality. She exemplified the entrepreneurial spirit that is at the heart of our city’s success. Even as her brand became a nationwide success, she never forgot to give back to the community that helped make it all possible,” Bloomberg said in a statement.

Woods publicly announced on her 80th birthday that she was retiring and was passing her legacy to her children and grandchildren that worked alongside her and her late husband Herbert, who died in 2001, for 50 years.

The family is asking in lieu of flowers for donations to be made to the Sylvia and Herbert Woods Fund.

Share your memories of Sylvia Woods and Sylvia’s restaurant in the comments section below…