When Joel Russ emigrated from Austria-Hungary (today southern Poland) to the United States in 1907, he kicked off his career by selling strings of mushrooms that he carried on his shoulders. After running his business our of a pushcart and then a horse and a wagon, Joel was able to open up his first brick-and-mortar "appetizer" shop in 1914 – first on Orchard Street in the Lower East Side, and later at the current location on East Houston Street in 1920.
During this time, he and his wife, Belle, had three daughters: Hattie, Anne, and Ida. Hattie began learning the business in 1924 and her sisters came in to help shortly after. The shop was renamed "Russ & Daughters" in 1933, which caused quite a ruckus in the neighborhood–women just did not run business in those days.
AN IMPORTANT DECISON
Sadly, Joel passed away in 1961, and later Anne's son Mark Russ Federman took over the shop in 1978. More recently, Joel's great-grandchildren Joshua Russ Tupper and Niki Russ Federman (pictured below) have been handed the torch to run, expand and modernize the store. Russ & Daughters has been through a lot: during the Depression, Joel had to decide whether to sell the business or the family home, and he opted to sell the house, betting that saving the business would keep the family afloat. And now, 102 years later, Russ & Daughters is still going strong.
Russ & Daughters sells forshpayz, which means the foods you eat with bagels, such as smoked and cured fish, homemade salads and cream cheese. In 2014, the year that the original store celebrated 100 years in business, Niki and Joshua decided to open a sit-down café on Orchard Street, very close to their great-grandfather's original space. Now there is also a shop/café in the Jewish Museum, and R&D is the subject of a documentary called "The Sturgeons Queens" (2014).
F train to 2nd Avenue