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Sylvia’s of Harlem faces eviction

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

The Midtown Restaurant Sylvia’s of Harlem may be getting evicted from its newly renovated home in the area’s historic Manhattan Casino. The restaurant owes the city more than $60,000 in things like rent, late fees and bounced payments.

The city’s legal department mailed notice to Sylvia’s this week demanding payment in full of the amount owed. To remain in compliance with the city, Sylvia’s must pay up by the 29th of this month. If they fail to do so, the city’s legal department said Thursday they will begin the eviction process.

According to City Council member Jim Kennedy who delivered a report on the council Budget, Finance and Taxation committee last month, the city has tried unsuccessfully to work with Sylvia’s to ensure the famed restaurant could stay in the building.

Kennedy said the Harlem, New York-based parent restaurant has not been as involved in the St. Pete location as the city had hoped. There were also bonds issued for the restaurant to start up. The issuers of those bonds have not stepped up to the plate to make right the money owed the city.

Sylvia’s opened on 22nd Street South in Midtown in November of 2013. It took up residence in the 1920’s dance hall, The Manhattan Casino. Celebrities the likes of James Brown, Louis Armstrong, Fats Waller, Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, Ray Charles, Nat King Cole and Sarah Vaughn visited the hall.

The original Sylvia’s opened in Harlem in 1962 with famous chef Sylvia Woods. To this day that restaurant is still operated by the Woods family.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email

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