For six hours, a steady stream of friends, colleagues and mentees tearfully walked through the theater of The Met on North Broad Street, some so grief-stricken by the loss of KeVen Parker they could barely stand to say goodbye.
The 57-year-old restauranteur died earlier this month from cancer and diabetes.
"He will be missed every day because I'm losing one of my best friends," said John Jones.
SEE ALSO: Local Black restaurant pioneer Keven Parker has died at 57
Looking at all the lives Parker had touched, Lanez Perry-Boone said she felt his presence at the viewing.
She said he was like a father to her.
To many in the community, he was a trailblazer, opening various soul food eateries, particularly the now famed Ms. Tootsies.
A community comes to say goodbye to pioneer restauranteur, KeVen Parker. The 6 hour viewing helped maintain social distancing for those who stopped by the MET. Parker died earlier this month from cancer and diabetes. His funeral tomorrow is a private event pic.twitter.com/iE4Rj3Rhtd— Christie Ileto (@Christie_Ileto) January 26, 2021
"There was nothing there when he opened 13th and South," said Perry-Boone. "Most restaurants who opened up after him that were Black-owned went to him for advice and counsel, and he opened his arms freely."
Gregory Love was one of many who learned from Parker.
"I knew him not only through the restaurant business, but also being a mentor, someone instrumental in helping me fulfilling some of my goals," Love said.
SEE ALSO: Philadelphia community mourning loss of restaurant pioneer KeVen Parker
Love said they spoke the day before he passed after he received a text message from Parker.
"Something just said call him again. We had a conversation, a brief conversation, but I think that was his way of telling goodbye because I didn't know how serious it was. I'm just thankful I answered that text," Love said.
Parker was a self-made success story. The entrepreneur even made award-winning dishes that have been sampled by Patti LaBelle, Oprah Winfrey and former President Bill Clinton.
While his achievements paved the way for future Black restauranteurs, those who knew him say it's his ability to invest in the community that will be missed most.