Sylvia Woods, the founder of Sylvia’s restaurant in Harlem passed on Thursday. She founded the world famous Sylvia’s restaurant, the premier soul food restaurant in the neighborhood. The restaurant is a staple of Harlem, drawing many high powered patrons such as celebrities and politicians. It is a main meeting point for many Harlem politicos and strategists.
The legacy of Sylvia Woods is indeed a great one. The success story of a South Carolina transplant, who brought down home cooking to New Yorker and tourist alike. For the many Black New Yorkers who have Southern roots, this restaurant represents that connection between many of us and our migrant parents. Often dismissed and derided as “table scraps” Sylvia’s was a part of gaining the cultural recognition that Southern cuisine had yet to experience. People come from all around the world to experience Harlem, and often one of their first stops is Sylvia’s.
Ms. Woods was 86 years old.
-Marc W. Polite