Queen of Soul Food Dies

The founder of Harlem’s landmark soul food restaurant, Sylvia Wood dies at 86

The founder of the legendary Sylvia’s restaurant died on Thursday, July 19 at the age of 86. Sylvia Wood’s spirited sense of entrepreneurship helped her develop the restaurant into becoming and iconic landmark in Harlem and beyond, and her legacy will not be forgotten.

Wood first opened her restaurant in 1962 after purchasing a luncheonette space from the owner that she formerly waitressed for – her mother mortgaged her family’s farm in their hometown of Hemingway, South Carolina to loan Wood the money to buy the place. Fifty years later Sylvia’s has expanded past the walls of its Lenox Avenue location, now offering a lounge know as Sylvia's Also, a full-service catering company and hall, a nation-wide line of Sylvia's food products, cookbooks, and a real estate firm all while still being family operated.

Sylvia’s has had a unique position in the Harlem community, serving as a place for politicians, such as President Bill Clinton, Bill O’Reily, Al Sharpton, and President Obama to gather, as well a place for Apollo Theater performers to grab a bite before getting on the stage.

Although the “Queen of Soul Food” has passed away her dream and ambition with remain the driving force behind her company.