Russ & Daughters

Art & Culture | History

Appetizing Shop Serving New Yorkers Since 1914

Russ and Daughters NYC Lower East Side Storefront

About Russ & Daughters

 & why it made the Carpe City list

  • Welcome to the House that Herring Built, home of the Sturgeon Queens.
  • Russ & Daughters is a 4th generation, family-owned appetizing store serving the Lower East Side since 1914.
  • It has contributed so much to the culinary and cultural history of the neighborhood, it’s on the National Register of Historic Places.
  • But Russ & Daughters isn’t just about history. It’s alive and expanding today! A café opened on Orchard St. in 2014; an outpost opened at the Jewish Museum in 2016, and an Appetizing Factory opened at the Brooklyn Navy Yard in 2019.
  • But the heart of the operation is where it’s been for over 100 years: 179 East Houston St.
    • If you go inside, you’ll see barrels of nuts, gorgeous displays of candied fruit, perfect bagels, cases full of lox, whitefish and caviar, babka with fat swirls of chocolate… it’s a Jewish-Willy-Wonka-Xanadu in there… and the multi-colored vintage neon sign ain’t half bad either.
  • So, where to begin? The year is 1907. Joel Russ arrives from Poland and starts selling schmaltz herring from a barrel on the Lower East Side.
    • The barrel becomes a pushcart, becomes a horse-and-wagon, becomes a brick & mortar store, which opened on Orchard Street in 1914.
    • In 1920 Russ swung around the corner and set up shop at 179 East Houston Street.
  • Russ had no sons. But, you guessed it, he had 3 daughters, Hatti, Ida and Anne, aka the Sturgeon Queens, who became partners in the business in 1935.
  • Accordingly, Russ changed the name of the store to Russ & Daughters.
    • The change was a big deal. It was the first business in the United States to have “& Daughters” in the name!
  • So, in a way Russ & Daughters was the first of its kind, and in another way, it’s the last of its kind: R&D stands out as the last appetizing store on the LES (there were once up 30 of them in the nabe.).

Carpe City Trivia

What's Appetizing?

  • You know it as an adjective (appealing to the palate), but have you ever heard it used as a noun before?
  • It’s a New York thing. If you’re not from here, you may never have heard appetizing used this way. Don’t worry! We’re here to explain.
  • In the New York Jewish culinary tradition,  essentially it means, “food you eat with bagels.”
  • Basically, you’re looking at lox, smoked fish, cream cheese, herring, pickles, salads, caviar, baked goods and specialty foods.

How is this different from a deli?

No meat. Traditional kosher dietary law says you can’t mix milk and meat, so stores selling meat became known as delis, and stores selling fish and dairy became known as appetizing stores.

By: Lucie Levine

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