Sylvia Woods, the “Queen of Soul Food,” passed away today at the age of 86.
Sylvia is best known for founding the famous restaurant in Harlem that bears her name.
Reportedly, Sylvia had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease years ago and finally succumbed to the illness Thursday afternoon.
“Sylvia gallantly battled Alzheimer’s for the past several years but never once lost her loving smile,” read a statement from family members, some of whom were present at her passing.
Originally from South Carolina, Sylvia opened Sylvia’s in 1962. The restaurant is considered a landmark and popular tourist attraction in the community, even attracting President Barack Obama.
“Sylvia’s has been more than a restaurant. It has been a meeting place for Black America,” the Rev. Al Sharpton told the New York Daily News.
Throughout her career, Sylvia authored cookbooks and made her delicacies—including hot sauce and barbecue sauce—available in grocery stores nationwide.
Sylvia had already stepped down as the CEO of her business, and her children are expected to continue her legacy, the Daily News reports.
—Tracy L. Scott
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