Monday, 17 November 2008


Joel Russ, a Galacian Jew from what is now East Poland, began his career on the Lower East Side in 1911, peddling Polish mushrooms from a horse-drawn wagon.

He established his "Cut-Rate Appetising Store" on Orchard Street in 1914.

But the gruff, hard-working Mr Russ had little patience with his finicky customers, and the business suffered until he put his three, pretty daughters, Ida, Anne, and Hattie, behind the counters. He had no sons.

Renamed Russ and Daughters, the store moved to its present location at 179 East Houston Street, between Orchard and Allen Streets, in the 1940's according to Maria Federman, wife of Mark Federman, present owner of the store and son of Joel Russ's daughter Anne.

Russ and Daughters still sells fresh Malossol caviar
and 50 varieties of smoked and salted fish prepared on
the premises from recipes unchanged for over a century: like lox, smoked salmon (including sweet-smoked Gaspe), smoked white-fish and lake sturgeon, matjes herring, and the rather sweet chopped herring salad.

Each of the three daughters met their husbands while working at Russ and Daughters. Today a portrait of the Russ daughters, adorns a wall of the store, and hanging in the window are long necklaces of dried Polish mushrooms, the kind that Joel Russ sold on these same streets from his wagon, years ago.

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