In 1962, Sylvia Woods opened the doors of her soul food restaurant, Sylvia’s, in the heart of Harlem. Since its inception, her business has grown to become a staple of the community and a hotspot for notable people. Former President Bill Clinton, President Barack Obama and Rev. Al Sharpton are just a few of the people who have dined at the famous restaurant. Last year, the “Queen of Soul Food” lost her battle with Alzheimer’s disease, but her family has launched a new project in efforts to keep her legacy going.
In November, the Woods family opened the doors of a new restaurant called “Sylvia’s Queen of Soul Food” in St. Petersburg, Fla. The eatery, which serves up many of the same delicious dishes that can be found on the Harlem menu, is run by Larry and Bettye Newsome of Aracle Foods and other leaders within the St. Petersburg community.
“The Newsome’s represent the tradition of family ownership and community empowerment, which has been at the very foundation of our business philosophy for 51 years,” Kenneth Woods, CEO of Sylvia’s Restaurant Harlem, told the Florida Courier.
The new restaurant is one of the first steps in reviving the Manhattan Casino, a storied dancehall in St. Petersburg for African Americans during the Harlem Renaissance. “What better way to build upon the legacy of the Sylvia’s brand than to open in the historic Manhattan Casino,” Woods said.