3:48 PM / Wednesday August 10, 2022

1 May 2015

Ms. Tootsie’s celebrates 15th anniversary with a month-long challenge to ‘Do Good, Eat Well, Dream Big’–May 1-31

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May 1, 2015 Category: Local Posted by:

South Street soul-food staple toasts 15 years with a month of food, fun, and philanthropy


Keven Parker and his South Street staple, Ms. Tootsie’s Restaurant Bar Lounge (RBL), are celebrating 15 years in business on May 26. When Parker opened the doors to a modest, 18 seat eatery in South Philadelphia in 2000, people thought he was crazy. A decade and a half later, he has established himself as a culinary legend, and Ms. Tootsie’s as a Philadelphia icon boasting three floors, seating for over 100, and a laundry list of notable supporters. After extending his influence in 2013 with a location in the acclaimed Reading Terminal Market, it was clearer than ever that Ms. Tootsie’s was going from great to legendary. Throughout May, Parker will pause to reflect on these successes, and those to come, with a month-long “Do Good, Eat Well, Dream Big” celebration of Ms. Tootsie’s incredible journey.

The story begins with the late Joyce Parker, Keven’s mother and business partner. More than the soul behind the famous food, Joyce was Ms. Tootsie. Raising her son in a West Philadelphia housing project, she took on the role of community ‘cook,’ and instilled in him an appreciation for the unifying power of food. Joyce’s passion – not to mention her well-known love of Tootsie Rolls – stayed with Parker as he learned to think of preparing and sharing a meal as a spiritual endeavor and a way to bring people together.

Translating these experiences into the mantra ‘Do Good, Eat Well, Dream Big,’ Parker invites the community to share in Ms. Tootsie’s 15 years of success with a month of food, fun, and philanthropy including:

May 1-31: “Tell Us Your Food Story.” For the chance to win a month-long apprenticeship with Parker, emerging culinary leaders were chosen be encouraged to visit to share their unique inspiration and food journey.

May 12, Noon to 1pm: Lunch with Tom Joyner. The host of the nationally acclaimed Tom Joyner Morning Show will join in on the fun, helping Parker distribute 100 free lunches at Ms. Tootsie’s Soul Food Café in the Reading Terminal Market. (12th and Arch)

May 15, Noon to 3pm: “Spread the Love.” Hopping back in the driver’s seat of the Ms. Tootsie’s “Spread the Love” truck, Parker and his crew will give back, completing ‘random acts of kindness’ such as picking up grocery store tabs or paying strangers’ electric bills. To follow the Love live, or make a request, follow @MsTootsies on Twitter using the #SpreadtheLove hashtag.

May 20, 6-8pm: An Evening with Keven Parker. A ‘master class’ of sorts, Parker will open up to 50 guests about his culinary journey, the Ms. Tootsie’s saga, the importance of leaving a social impact, and how to ‘be your best self.’ To RSVP, visit Space is limited.

The 15th anniversary of Ms. Tootsie’s is a milestone few restaurants reach. So what does it take to stay relevant in an industry often swayed by what’s new, who’s on television, and whether their dinner is gluten-free? Parker moves forward with the same philosophy he’s always had: treat customers like family, serve them food from the heart, and they’ll stand by you.

In the Reading Terminal Market, Ms. Tootsie’s Soul Food Cafe offers the same luxe feel and approachable, Southern comfort food, tucked intimately away from the busy crowds at Avenue A and 5th Avenue.

For more information on Ms. Tootsie’s Restaurant Bar Lounge and “Do Good, Eat Well, Dream Big,” visit

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