Devoted Waitress at Kosher Legend Signs a Bittersweet Letter to Customers; With Love to America and Pastrami!

By Carol Tannenhauser

Signing her name with a flourish, Rose Paris said goodbye to her customers at Fine & Schapiro, the 91-year-old kosher deli on West 72nd Street, between Columbus and Amsterdam Avenues, in an “Open Letter” she taped to the window. On Tuesday, a passerby took a picture, and sent it to us on Twitter.

Such a sweet letter, we thought. So who is Rose?

She came to America from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1966, planning to return home and be a translator.

“I always loved the English language,” she said, in an interview at her studio apartment, in a senior residence not far from the deli. “As a child, I would go to the library and listen to American records. When I grew up, I found a job as a translator, but my boss sent me here to learn English better. I loved it! I met my husband and we dated for eight months before my visa was up. When I told him I had to go back, he said, “Marry me and you can stay.’”

Seven years later, when Rose was 34, her husband died, leaving her alone with two young children.

“That’s when I started working as a waitress,” she said. “Fine & Schapiro is the best place I ever worked. I didn’t want to leave, but I had to face reality. Two weeks ago, I turned 81. I can’t do waitressing anymore. It was getting to the point that when I was serving a table, the customers were helping me carry the plates. I’d say, ‘Do I have to share my tip with you?’”

Rose lost her son on 9/11. He worked for Cantor Fitzgerald.

“I feel so sad, so sorry,” she said, quietly.

But she didn’t want to dwell on her losses.

“I have my granddaughter who I adore,” she smiled. “My holidays I spend with them in Connecticut.”

What’s next for Rose?

“I’ve got a bachelor’s degree in Health and Information Technology,” she revealed. “I’m going to study computer, now that I don’t work. I already enrolled in a class on Lafayette Street, downtown. I’ll take the 1 or 2 to Chambers Street and walk.”

“I love America,” she declared.

On her front door hangs a painting by her granddaughter of an American flag, beneath those words.

“Especially New York,” she added. “The rush! And everything you want you can find right here. But, most of all, the people.”

And the pastrami!

“A lot of customers asked me, ‘Which is your favorite food?’ I’d say, ‘The pastrami. You can’t go wrong with that.’”

FOOD, NEWS | 24 comments | permalink
    1. jezbel says:

      Is Rose 81 or 91 you mentioned both in the article. Also, does she or doesn’t she have any other means of support? Perhaps someone can start a GoFundMe page for her and circulate it here. She’s a lovely human being.

    2. Leda says:

      What a great story! I hope she writes a memoir!

    3. Lrahip says:

      We wish her the best as she moves on to the next interesting part of her life!! An inspiration!!

    4. jhminny says:

      Good grief! How many times do you have to be told the deli is 91 and she is 81? Much ado about nothing with that.

      But this lady is a lovely woman. God bless her.

      • Paul says:

        It’s because when people reply they never bother to read what others have written.

        • Cato says:

          — “It’s because when people reply they never bother to read what others have written.”

          Actually it’s because replies aren’t posted as they are written, but only (I assume) after they have been reviewed by the Editor. (Haven’t you noticed that when you think you’ve posted something it does not appear until later?)

          As a result many people may (as here) have the answer but do not know that others have come up with it as well. Everybody thinks they are the first to post that answer, not knowing that others have already submitted the same answer that has not yet been posted.

          By the way, I think that it is the restaurant that is 91 years old and the lady who (G-d bless her) is 81.

    5. Elisabeth Anderson says:

      I really liked that deli, and I am sure she was our waitress. Sorry I didn’t get back to see her again.

    6. Paul says:

      No one got the spelling right. It’s Schapiro with a c.

    7. Jen says:

      Wonderful woman. Hardworking, positive, greatful for whatever opportunities came her way. I was also happy to hear about how good Fine&Schapiro was to her. I wasn’t the biggest fun of this deli before but now am reconsidering my opinion and will come there again.

      • Paul says:

        Agreed. I was never a big fan of the deli, as there were much better options. But alas, F&S is one of the last ones standing and they will get my business. And good to know they treat their employees well!

    8. SnowBoid says:

      81/91; does NOT matter! What DOES matter is: “She came to America from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1966…Rose lost her son on 9/11. He worked for Cantor Fitzgerald.”

      Rose is a wonderful symbol of the immigrant experience: proud, independent, hard-working, and, unfortunately, a survivor of the worst kind of personal tragedy.

      Someone should send this story to Herr Trump!

      Uh-oh, wait a mo’…Rose’s skin is white, so she’d be okay with our B.I.C. (Bigot-in-Chief).

      • Sherman says:

        According to this story Rose came to this country LEGALLY and had a LEGAL right to stay here.

        She didn’t hop over a fence and declare a divine right to live here.

        Her skin color is irrelevant.

        Anyway, nice story. I’ve eaten @ F&S many times and I’ve had Rose as my waitress. Good luck to her.

    9. Frank says:

      Great person who served me numerous times at this great deli. Enjoy your retirement!

    10. ron shapley says:

      Do you all remember 80 year old Mary at The Carnegie Deli ?? She retired after winning a lotto scratch off game.. $1000 a week, for life ~~

    11. nwags says:

      What a lovely piece about an even lovelier person. Thanks WSR!