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Sylvia Woods, Harlem’s ‘Queen of Soul Food,’ dies at age 86

The New York City icon and matriarch of the famed Harlem restaurant bearing her name died Thursday at her home, her family said.
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Sylvia Woods, a New York City icon and the matriarch of the famed Harlem restaurant that bore her name, died Thursday at her Westchester home, family members said in a statement.

She was 86 and had been battling Alzheimer's disease, her family said.

Woods, born in Hemingway, S.C., worked at a restaurant in Harlem for eight years before buying her own restaurant in 1962. The Lenox Avenue restaurant eventually became an institution, attracting a loyal following that ranging from locals to presidents.

"Ms. Woods was surrounded by a host of family and loved ones," the statement from her family read. "The family is thankful for your prayers."

In lieu of flowers, the family said it would appreciate donations to the Sylvia and Herbert Woods Foundation.