- (Photo: Reuters/Shaun Best)
New York City soul food restaurant owner Sylvia Woods died on Thursday at age 86.
The Southern food expert died at her home in Westchester County, N.Y., just hours before she was to receive a special honor from N.Y.C. Mayor Michael Bloomberg, according to The New York Times.
"We lost a legend today," said Bloomberg, according to New York's Daily News. "Generations of family and friends have come together at what became a New York institution."
Although her cause of death was not accounted for, Woods had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease a few years ago.
Woods founded Sylvia's Restaurant, which boasts the tagline, "Queen of Soul Food," and that she was. The restaurant at Lenox Avenue near 127th Street opened in 1962 and offers a plethora of Southern favorites, including fried chicken, corn bread, ribs, and hot cakes, among many other items.
The restaurant quickly gained fame, and has seen dozens of well known names including Robert Flack, Quincy Jones, Diana Ross, Muhammad Ali, Bill Clinton, Robert F. Kennedy and every New York City mayor, according to The Times.
Today, Sylvia's is currently owned and operated by Woods' children and grandchildren and have since her retirement six years ago.
The Queen of Soul Food is being remembered on Twitter, with many users posting tributes to Woods following her death.
"Legendary chef and restrauteur Sylvia Woods passed away yesterday. She will be missed. #RIP," wrote Aaron.
Bevy posted, "R.I.P. Sylvia Woods you lived a full life & your children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren are better because of you."
"'Good night' to a soul food legend," wrote Troy. "May heaven be lined with the sweetest okra."
"She paved the way for African-American women," The Story Exchange wrote on Twitter.
Kim added, "RIP MS. SYLVIA WOODS. You started it all sylvia! Your presence will be so missed uptown. love [the] 2whole woods family."