Entrepreneur KeVan Parker is being remembered as a man who left his impact on the community.
Parker was the sole proprietor of Simply Delicious Caterers, Café 3801, Ms. Tootsie’s Restaurant Bar Lounge, Live Your Life Entertainment and the KeVen Parker Soul Food Café.
He died on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He was 57.
Community members and friends turned out for his viewing held Monday afternoon at The Met in North Philadelphia.
Longtime friend Clarence Smith said Parker was advised by successful, politically connected old school business owners raised in South Philadelphia.
“We’ve been friends all of our lives but what I loved about him is he listened to what the older folks was telling him,” he said.
“He listened to what they told him to do and he made it.”
Smith recalled how blighted the neighborhood was when Parker first opened Ms. Tootsie’s almost 21 years ago on the 1300 block of South Street. Now the area is considered prime real estate.
Parker grew Ms. Tootsie’s into a popular destination for soul food.
“I was proud of him because he started out, kept pushing and he hung in there,” Smith said.
He said Parker was instrumental in hiring many African Americans from the community.
Parker and Smith grew up together and attended Bartram Human Services School.
“We had the type of friendship that we didn’t talk everyday but when I talked to him we picked up right where we left off,” Smith said.
The Rev. Gregory Rhett, was among Parker’s customers who came to the viewing.
“I’ve been to his restaurant a couple of times and I’ve seen him out in the community on various occasions, so I’ve just come to pay my respects,” he said.
Brenda Barnes is another customer who enjoyed dining at Ms. Tootsie’s.
“His food is delicious,” she said. “It was high but it was good. He was loved. He did a lot for the community too.”
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