Sylvia Woods, of Harlem's Sylvia's Soul Food, is dead at 86

NEW YORK - The founder of the famed Harlem soul food restaurant Sylvia's has died. Sylvia Woods was 86...

Luther Vandross was outed as gay after his death.

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.”

Click here to read more.