Sylvia’s, The World Famous Soul Food Kitchen: ‘Legacy’ 

TheGrio’s new series, “Legacy,” launches with a look at Harlem's very own Sylvia’s Restaurant. 

Sylvia’s Restaurant has been a cornerstone in the Harlem community for more than 50 years. The restaurant has been the go-to destination for politicians, athletes, musicians, Harlemites, and tourists alike with a legacy rooted in family and soul-nurturing food.

Sylvia’s has earned its place in African American history as one of the oldest Black-owned businesses to date and Harlem’s most legendary soul food kitchen.

In the first episode of theGrio’s new series, “Legacy,” third-generation owner and granddaughter of Sylvia Woods, Tren’ness Woods-Black walks us through the history of the world’s most famous soul food kitchen.

Tren’ness Woods-Black, granddaughter of Sylvia Woods, shares the history of Sylvia’s Restaurant, the famous eatery in Harlem. (Photo Credit: Yolanda Hoskey)

“Growing up, Sylvia’s is being a part of this amazing institution and having a front-row seat to the changes and evolution and the ebbs and flows of one of the most historical, culturally significant Black communities in the world, which is Harlem,” says Woods-Black.

Sylvia’s was established on Aug. 1, 1962, with 35 seats. Currently, the restaurant can accommodate 400 people and takes up nearly an entire city block. The institution has been the largest minority employer in Harlem for more than four decades and home to three generations of the Woods family. 

Chicken-and-waffles order ready to be served at Sylvia’s Restaurant. (Photo Credit: Yolanda Hoskey)

“Our legacy is something that you can be proud of. Because when you step onto 126th Street and Lenox Avenue, which is also Sylvia [P.] Woods Way, it’s always going to be black home,” Woods-Black says.

“Legacy” is a profile series that spotlights Black businesses whose 50-plus year legacies have withstood the test of time, while managing to “keep it in the family.” Each episode takes viewers through the history of the business as told by its next-generation owners. 

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