Niki Russ Federman
Niki Russ Federman, Co-Owner of Russ & Daughters
“I went from thinking 'If I end up doing what my parents, my grandparents, and my great grandparents did with their lives, then I haven't achieved anything.’ Because in our very individualistic society you're taught to carve your own path. You're supposed to move up from what your parents and your grandparents have done. But at some point I was able to flip that around and see that the continuity that Russ & Daughters provides on so many levels is such a rare thing, and has so much value. I realized that it's actually an opportunity. It's an amazing gift to be a part of a lineage, the fourth generation of a tradition, in America especially. And then I saw that Russ & Daughters provides that continuity for so many people. They want to taste pickled lox and have it be the same taste that they remember from eating it 40 years ago. They want to come to the store and have that reassurance that even though everything else in New York might be changing, Russ & Daughters is still here and it's still that same."
“Being '100 years in' is how we think about this. The way that we approach this business is very different from other places. We make our decisions based on very long-term projections. How do we ensure that Russ & Daughters is going to be around for the next generation? If we're opening a restaurant, how do we do it so that it feels like it's always been there? Especially in the restaurant world, there's just so much flux and unknowns and short-lived restaurants. So we're very cautious, but I think it's a very healthy caution. When we were talking to landlords and they'd say 'How long a lease do you want?' we'd say, '100 years!' And we were serious. I also feel moved by how much enthusiasm and support we've gotten. So many of our customers don't want Russ & Daughters to change. They're afraid. And so when we first announced the restaurant we were worried about how it would be received. But if anything, the only complaint I've heard so far is, 'Well what took you so long?’”
Eater, Photo by Buck Ennis for Crains