A final wave of stoic commercial survivors are at last resuming business after a long COVID-induced slumber.
Among them, Russ & Daughters, the iconic appetizing institution, which just announced the reopening of its Lower East Side cafe.
“Like everyone else, we expected a few weeks until we reopened,” fourth-generation Russ & Daughters co-owner Josh Russ Tupper said in a release about the local landmark’s reopening of its 127 Orchard St. eatery on Monday.
“There’s been this euphoria to our return, and I think it’s because for New Yorkers, Russ & Daughters is sort of a symbol of the spirit and resilience of our city and people,” fellow fourth-generation co-owner Niki Russ Federman added to Gothamist of the incredible reception the restaurant has had this week. “And it’s also kind of amusing that there are out-of-towners who have been coming in the last few days, who had no idea we were closed, and they were just surprised to hear that they were some of the first people back in the space. So it’s been really tremendous.”
The pandemic marked the first time in the classic Jewish food purveyor’s 108-year-history that it had to close for more than a few days.
“When 9/11 happened, my father and I closed the shop for half of that afternoon, and we were open again the next day, taking hand trucks up 14th Street to get deliveries,” Federman told Gothamist. “So there’s always been this determination that my family has had that no matter what’s going on in the world, Russ & Daughters needs to be open to be a community anchor, and a kind of a bellwether for the state of our city. But with the pandemic, it was beyond our control.”
The proprietors stayed busy during the pandemic, though, running a number of successful online fundraisers, shipping meals to essential workers and maintaining a nationwide delivery service while keeping their cafe and original shop closed. (A former Upper East Side location, in the Jewish Museum, permanently closed during the pandemic.)
Joining Russ & Daughters in at last coming back from COVID this month are the East Village’s 19-year-old seafood join Mermaid Inn and Union Square Hospitality Group’s Maialino. The former has, as of July 18, signage and hiring plans back in its window, and the latter has announced it’ll be returning later this year.
Ex-Brit turned Manhattan resident since 2008.