It’s a celebration! The legendary staple of Harlem, Sylvia’s Restaurant turned 60 years old and we were there to celebrate with them.
Sylvia’s “The Queen Of Soul Food” Restaurant was founded in 1962 by Sylvia Woods and established in the heart of Harlem located at 328 Malcolm X Blvd. To many, it is known as the "world's kitchen" but to her family it is home.
Crizette Woods saw all of Sylvia's work firsthand as she took over ownership from her mother. She recalls her upbringing in the restaurant and joked that she was almost born there because her mother didn’t want to take a break from work while she was in labor.
“As a child, this was all I knew. This was home to me,” Woods said. “I’ve been in here since two weeks old until now. When I was able to reach the sink, I was washing dishes. I was peeling potatoes, then I started serving, so this restaurant is my life.”
For many years, Sylvia Woods has catered to not only the area of Harlem but also to many who have traveled from all over to taste her amazing cooking.
“The most exciting time that I’ve seen was when Obama was running [for President], and he and Bill Clinton were around the corner at the Harlem State building and then they walked over and you would’ve thought it was Gandhi out here because there were thousands of people out here,” Lindsay Williams, Sylvia’s grandson said.
The celebrity appearances didn’t stop with Barack Obama and Bill Clinton. Upon walking into the restaurant, there are pictures on every wall of different celebrities including The Clark Sisters, Ne-Yo, Rev. Al Sharpton, Destiny’s Child, and so many more.
Ms. Woods served everybody until her passing in 2012. However, her family is making sure that her legacy will continue to live on and be a service to the community for many years to come. The restaurant is now being run by Sylvia’s daughters, nieces, nephews, and grandchildren.
Over the years, Sylvia’s brand expanded to cookbooks, seasonings, multiple sauces, and other products that are sold at the restaurant and local supermarkets. They have also expanded adding Sylvia’s Also, a full-service catering hall right next to the restaurant on the corner of 126th and Malcolm X Blvd, which is named after Sylvia Woods.
If you haven’t tried their amazing food, it is a must to head to Harlem to do so. You will not be disappointed. This celebration was the perfect way to celebrate Black Business Month.