Last week we held a celebration in honor of Herman Vargas and his 30 years (and counting!) at Russ & Daughters. Close to 100 people attended. It was a truly special evening full of joy, good humor and spontaneity. We only wish we could have fit all the friends of Russ & Daughters into one space.
Planned speeches and toasts from members of the Russ family, staff, and the man of honor himself were followed by unprompted and inspired speeches from the audience. Calvin Trillin had the crowd in stitches as he simultaneously toasted Herman while roasting Mark Russ Federman.
Alina Sheffi, herself a veteran of Russ & Daughters with 20 years at the counter under her belt, read an original poem inspired by the Russ & Daughters sandwich menu. We thought it was so great, we’ve included the poem here:
Oy Vey Schmear,
Boychick is here.
From a shtetl in the Dominican Republic he took a flight,
And soon became a Daughter’s Delight.
From working in the kitchen to the front,
He made it!
He’s a Heebster.
Going through the generations
With Anne and Mark and now the kinder,
He became a Super Heebster.
He used to live in the building with his family,
And on shabbos when he was off, he would get a little antsy.
So he would take a stroll in the neighborhood,
All Fancy on Delancey
On Yom Kippur he’s a bit Meshugge
But we love him like no other.
He’s always searching for the meaning of life.
Thank God he has a patient wife.
Rice and beans he ate growing up in the D.R.
But once on the Lower East Side,
It was only the finest caviar.
Herman, you used to be a Dominican,
But after 30 years,
You’re a Jewdinican.
30 years may sound like a lot,
But in Yiddish it’s gurnisht,
Which means “nothing” for a guy with such a big heart.
So zei gizunt and salut! To Herman!
For more photos from the evening, here’s a slideshow of the event: