Sylvia Woods, Harlem Beacon, Dies At 86

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A Legacy By Winning Taste Buds

Sylvia Woods, founder of the famed Harlem
restaurant that bears her name had long become a New York institution
judging by the accolades and statements that are coming in following her death at age
86 today.

"I am deeply saddened to learn of the death of my dear friend, Ms.
Sylvia, the founder of world famous Sylvia's Restaurant," said Rep. Charles Rangel. "She was a
dynamic, warm and kind woman whom the entire Harlem community will miss.
Her family and friends are in my thoughts and prayers."

"When you mention Harlem institutions, historically, many people think of The Schomburg, Abyssinian Baptist Church, Mosque number seven, Hotel Theresa, The Cotton Club, The Apollo, and many others," said Milton Allimadi, publisher of The Black Star News. "Add Sylvia's Restaurant to that list. It's part of the Harlem legend."

“We lost a legend today," New York City mayor Michael
Bloomberg said, in a statement. "For more than
50 years, New Yorkers have enjoyed Sylvia’s and visitors have flocked to
Harlem to get a table. In her words, the food was made with ‘a whole
lot of love’ and generations of family and friends have come together at
what became a New York institution."

Sylvia Woods was born to Julia and Van Pressley in Hemingway, South Carolina, on Feb. 2, 1926.
At one point she trained
as a beautician. She later worked as a waitress at Johnson’s
Luncheonette from 1954 to 1962 in Harlem, before she launched her own

Her establishment is now a tourist destination from
people from allover the world. It's also a regular meeting place for
politicos such as Rep. Charles Rangel -- who celebrated his recent close
victory in front of the restaurant-- former mayor David Dinkins, former
governor David Paterson, Rev. Al Sharpton, and scores of others.
Celebrities whose pictures grace the walls include Muhammad Ali and
Kareem Abdul Jabbar, not to mention all the musical legends such as
James Brown, Michael Jackson, Diana Ross, and many more.

"I am
greatly saddened today by the passing of Sylvia Woods, a woman who not
only founded an iconic restaurant in Harlem, but became one of its
leading citizens and ambassadors to the world," said Manhattan Borough
President, Scott M. Stringer. "Sylvia's, her legendary restaurant and
gathering spot, was not simply a mecca
for world-class cuisine. It was a friendly and inviting place where
residents of Harlem, countless other New Yorkers and visitors from
around the globe knew they would always find a warm welcome. " 
[More To Come]

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