Sylvia's restaurant has been a culinary institution for nearly 60 years. The Harlem restaurant is world-famous for it's soul food dishes, like chicken-n-waffles, with a side of macaroni and cheese. On Sunday, the menu included a special offering, giving back to the community during a time of crisis.
"We are always there for those that are in need,” said owner Kenneth Woods. “When our community hurts, we hurt. We do whatever we can to assist in that endeavor."
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The restaurant, which sits on Malcolm X Blvd, has historically offered its popular Gospel Brunch every Sunday, but the weekly event has been cancelled indefinitely because of the pandemic. Sylvia's owners are now continuing the restaurant's legacy by distributing food and groceries to their neighbors in Harlem.
Sylvia's teaming up with National Action Network and CARES organization to launch Sunday Supper, a community pantry initiative. The bags will include meals and pantry items from the Sylvia’s nationally distributed food product line. The National Action Network has been giving out food six days a week since the middle of March. Rev. Al Sharpton was on hand for the meal distribution.
"I've been to Sylvia's with everyone from James Brown, to Barack Obama. Now, Sylvia's owners are giving back to the people,” Sharpton said. “It's special for people to come to the place they always came to dine, to know that they care about them."
National Action Network organizers say hundreds of people have been turning out to pick up food, an indication of the need there is in the community.
"It's two fold: It allows the community to see that Sylvia's Marquee is still alive; It encourages people from around the world who have been calling us asking how can be a part of it,” said Trenness Woods-Black, vice president of communications.
The restaurant is hoping to raise funds by selling gift cards online for when they can fully open. In the meantime, they will continue to serve their community, one of the hardest hit by the coronavirus.