New York treasure Sylvia Woods, whose namesake Harlem restaurant was frequented by everyone from tourists to celebrities, died on Thursday in her New York home, according to the Huffington Post. She was 86.
The renowned Queen of Soul Food had been battling Alzheizmer’s for the past several years, said the family in a statement.
Woods was set to receive an honor from New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg last night at Gracie Mansion commemorating the 50th anniversary of her restaurant when notice of her death made headlines. She was honored with a moment of silence and the award was given to a family friend.
On August 1, 1962, Sylvia’s Restaurant opened in Harlem, selling ribs, hot cakes, corn bread and fried chicken, and garnering attention from the neighborhood locals and celebrities. Stars like Quincy Jones, Diana Ross, Muhammad Ali and more flocked to the New York restaurant to taste what the city had been buzzing about. It offered more than a Southern taste in the North, but it became a local hotspot for New Yorkers.
From there, Woods took her now-famous name and branched off into other business ventures, creating two cookbooks, a commercial line of “prepared foods” and a catering service, according to the New York Times.
It wouldn’t be until 2006 that Woods finally hung up her apron and retreated to retirement.
She was survived by two sons, Van and Kenneth, and two daughters, Bedelia and Crizette. Her husband and business partner, Herbert Deward Woods, of 57 years preceded her in death in 2001.