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February 09, 2021

Soul Food Cafe, Ms. Tootsie's temporarily close as restaurants regroup following KeVen Parker's death

Food & Drink Restaurants
KeVen Parker Philly restaurants Source/Reading Terminal Market

KeVen Parker's Soul Food Cafe opened at Reading Terminal Market in 2013.

The late restaurateur KeVen Parker's two popular Philadelphia eateries are temporarily shut down.

Ms. Tootsie's Restaurant Bar & Lounge and KeVen Parker's Soul Food Cafe, as well as Parker's catering company, will be closed indefinitely until until it is determined who will take over the businesses, the Inquirer reported Monday.

Parker, 57, from West Philly, died last month from cancer and advanced diabetes. The entrepreneur never married, and his immediate family only consists of his sister, her children and an aunt.

"We just don't want to arbitrarily have the business running without any true direction," Monique Evans-Wescott, a friend of Parker's, told the Philadelphia Tribune

The decision to temporarily shutter both restaurants was announced on their Facebook pages.

The KeVen Parker Soul Food Cafe along with The Award Winning Ms. Tootsie’s Restaurant Bar and Lounge are temporarily closed. We look forward to seeing you all soon. ❤️

Posted by KeVen Parkers Soul Food Cafe - Reading Terminal Market on Sunday, January 31, 2021

Parker opened Ms. Tootsie's Restaurant Bar & Lounge, at 1312 South St., with his mom in 2000, and in 2013, he opened KeVen Parker's Soul Food Cafe near the 12th Street entrance of Reading Terminal Market.

Both restaurants have been Philly staples for southern cuisine and soul food.

The Reading Terminal Market location had remained open during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is one of 11 Black-owned businesses that are located at Reading Terminal Market. Parker's South Street restaurant only had remained open for takeout and small private events, according to Parker's website.

Last week, Philadelphia City Council approved a resolution that will name the 1300 block of South Street as KeVen Parker Way in honor of the late restaurateur. 

"KeVen Parker’s dedication to his craft and his community is exceptional, and his legacy will be remembered for generations of Philadelphians and Black-owned businesses to come," the resolution reads.

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