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.

Joel Russ in the shop. Courtesy of Russ & Daughters.

Russ & Daughters’ take-out shop on the Lower East Side of New York City (in this picture 1930) sells traditional Jewish appetizing foods to go like smoked fish and chopped liver. (Image credit: Russ & Daughters)


THE DAUGHTERS

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.

Pioneer Joel Russ is surrounded by his daughters (from left) Hattie, Ida and Anne.


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.

Courtesy: Russ & Daughters


THE FUTURE

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).

Russ & Daughters Fourth Generation Owners Niki Russ Federman and Josh Russ Tupper. Photo by Michael Harlan Turkell


ANIMATED TIMELINE


Courtesy: Russ & Daughters


Courtesy: Russ & Daughters

As far as we know, it was the first business in this country with “& Daughters,” and it’s still rare. You see “& Sons,” “& Brothers,” “& Cousins.” I would like to think my great-grandfather was the pioneering feminist making a political statement, but the sad truth is that he did not have any sons. He only had daughters. He also understood that it sounded like a good name, and maybe it wasn’t so bad if he stirred up a bit of controversy, which he did.
— Josh Russ Tupper, 4th generation running R&D

Courtesy: Russ & Daughters

Courtesy: Russ & Daughters


DIRECTIONS

F train to 2nd Avenue

 

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