This popular feature spotlights a wide variety of people who live and work on the Lower East Side. This week, we are featuring Josh Russ Tupper, co-owner of the beloved appetizing store, Russ and Daughters. (Josh was also featured in our print magazine this month.)
If you would like to nominate someone for “My LES,” please email us here.
What do you do?
I am the fourth-generation owner of Russ & Daughters, along with my cousin Niki Russ Federman.
How long have you lived on the LES?
I moved to the LES in August of 2002 after spending five years working in the semiconductor industry in Portland, Ore.
Favorite block in the hood?
It has to be Broome between Orchard and Ludlow, because if you look up at the buildings, you can’t tell if you’re in the past or present.
Favorite date spot in the hood?
The downstairs bar at Bacaro when it’s cold outside. In the warmer months, outside at ‘Inoteca.
Favorite coffee in the hood?
Russ & Daughters. We sell the coffee that I like.
Favorite cheap eats in the hood?
An Choi. Great banh mi sandwiches and pho, and a cool place to hang out.
Favorite dive bar in the hood?
169 Bar: a classic old-school dive bar, and it can get a little crazy in there.
Where do you take your visitors when they’re here?
I like walking down Orchard to Canal and then up Ludlow. There are a few stores that I like and there is a little something for everyone. Usually we stop for a nibble or drink along the way and end up at Freeman’s for cocktails and food.
What sort of changes have you seen in the neighborhood in the last few years?
The most significant changes I’ve noticed have been the huge buildings popping up everywhere.
Favorite LES memory?
My favorite memory of the LES was visiting Russ & Daughters, from my home upstate, as an 8-year-old. The Lower East Side seemed to me like the Wild West. The LES was a different place in the ’70s and ’80s. We would come in to see my grandmother and uncle who ran the store, and there would be an obstacle course of cars and people and bums and drug addicts and women who seemed not to be wearing enough clothes.
Simply driving around the LES to find a parking spot and walking to the store was an amazing experience; frightening but exciting, stepping over bums sleeping on the sidewalk, trash blowing down the streets, people yelling on the street at each other. From the eyes of an 8-year-old, it was exhilarating!
Then, we would step into Russ & Daughters and smell the delicious aroma of smoked fish, and see my grandmother and uncle, and feel the warmth of family, and the prospect of eating lots of candy. Then I would sneak (at least I thought I was sneaking) behind the candy counter and fill my pockets with as much candy as would fit — and then off we would go to Grandma’s house for lunch.