NBC NEW YORK – Sylvia Woods, the matriarch of the famed Harlem restaurant that bore her name and a New York City icon, died Thursday at her Westchester home, family members said in a statement.
She was 86 and had been battling Alzheimer’s disease, her family said.
Woods, born in Hemingway, S.C., worked at a restaurant in Harlem for eight years before buying her own restaurant in 1962. The Lenox Avenue restaurant eventually became an institution, attracting a loyal following that ranging from locals to presidents.
The legendary restaurant was a fixture of its Harlem neighborhood, and drew a steady stream of celebrities and tourists alike.
In addition to the restaurant, Woods and her family ran a catering business and own a line of soul food products. She published two bestselling cookbooks, “Sylvia’s Soul Food Cookbook” and “Sylvia’s Family Soul Food Cookbook.”
“Ms. Woods was surrounded by a host of family and loved ones,” the statement from her family read. “The family is thankful for your prayers.”
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