Philadelphia restaurateur KeVen Parker, who was the sole proprietor of Simply Delicious Caterers, Café 3801, Ms. Tootsie's Soul Food Café, Live Your Life Entertainment and the KeVen Parker Soul Food Café, died on Jan. 14, 2021. Parker was 57.
"My life is torn," said Lynette Saunders, Parker's sister in a statement. "My brother was most caring person in the world. There was never a time in my life when he was not there for me. My mom raised us well. Now I do not have my mom or my brother. My mom and brother were a team."
Parker was a self-made shining star entrepreneur, one of contemporary Philadelphia's great personalities and a rare visionary. From humble origins but strong roots, Parker grew up in West Philadelphia. Today, as successful businessman, overseeing six distinct entities, the corporate offices of The KeVen Parker Company are located in center city.
Ms. Tootsie's Restaurant Bar Lounge (RBL) won best Soul Food from Black Enterprise Magazine. His latest venture is KPD Lifestyle, offering exquisite design pieces for the home, office and beyond, as well as fashion souvenirs and more.
Former President Bill Clinton, television and movie stars Oprah Winfrey, Will Smith, Mo'Nique and legendary Philadelphia recording artist Patti Labelle have all sampled Parker's winning cuisine through one or more the KeVen Parker Company entities.
One might say that divine intervention played a part in Parker's success. But those close to him know that hard work, dedication, long hours and an uncompromising commitment to excellence, are the ingredients in Parker's recipe for achieving an ever-growing of success.
As a very young child, Parker would observe and help his mother Joyce Parker, as she labored lovingly over her neighborhood-famous southern creations. Joyce Parker would patiently explain the details and nuances of crafting extraordinary satisfying Soul Food.
Parker's wildly successful South Street BYOB, Ms. Tootsie's Soul Food Café, is named for his mom and her famous penchant for Tootsie's Rolls. The neighboring Ms. Tootsie's RBL taken in his Parker's moniker to a new level of sophistication and is a living testimony to Parker's boundless style and verve for contemporary design.
Parker was committed to giving back to his community with some 55 individuals in his employ. The KeVen Parker Company community outreach includes the Youth Adult Division, giving young men and women the opportunity to work for a progressive and upwardly mobile company while gaining valuable skills in an entrepreneurial and success-driven environment.
Parker readily admits that is with the help of prayer, counsel from family, and friends and mentors, have helped him along his path to success. The KeVen Parker Company has flourished because of Parker's strong dedication to his company, his peers, Philadelphia's African American community, and his strong beliefs. And always, the focus of the KeVen Parker Company is on a commitment to complete customer satisfaction, attention to detail and exceeding expectations.
Parker is survived by his sister Lynette Saunders, three nephews, aunt Laura Garfield and a host of family and friends.
Parker's death drew an outpouring of grief on social media. The following are reactions from Twitter and Facebook.
Patty Jackson, a radio personality: My heart is so saddened right now. Restauranteur KeVen Parker has died. He was 57 and had the establishments Ms Tootsie’s on South Street and KeVen Parkers Cafe in The Reading Terminal. He was a wonderful giving man. He blessed so many people. Please keep his family, friends and his staff in your prayers
Councilman Kenyatta Johnson: I want to express my deepest condolences to the family and friends of KeVen Parker, the owner of @KPE_MsTootsies, which is located in my Second Council District. He was a genuine and kind person and a good man.
KeVen Parker was an amazing restaurateur and businessperson and his loss will be felt in our city for years to come. Rest in Power!
Fox & Son Fancy Corn Dogs, located in Reading Terminal Market: We are extremely saddened to hear about the passing of KeVen Parker of @MsTootsies. He's been a great neighbor to us at the Market and was always so friendly, kind, and giving. What a tragic loss to our community. Our love goes out to his family, friends, and staff.
48th Street Grille, a Jamaican restaurant in West Philadelphia: KeVen Parker, thank you for your dedication to this industry. A pioneer on the Philly restaurant scene who will certainly be missed. This news is hard to accept, but we’re glad to have had the opportunity to experience you during your time here. Rest well our dear friend.
Prayers for the Ms Tootsies family.
Millie [@TheReal_Kamille]: Wow! Just hearing about KeVen Parker passing away- one of the very best in Philadelphia and will be missed
The Philadelphia Tribune has featured KeVen Parker frequently over the years. Here are some of those stores. (Click on the text to access the link.)
This is a developing story. Check back with phillytrib.com for updates.