Roman Kaplan

With a heavy heart, Russian Samovar has announced their beloved owner Roman Kaplan has passed away at the age of 84. Roman’s daughter Vlada Von Shats and her family wants to thank everyone who has supported her father and the restaurant over the years during this tragic time.

 Roman opened the establishment in 1986. Then in 1987 friends, Legendary dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov and Nobel Award Winning poet Joseph Brodsky, joined Roman as his business partners. Russian Samovar is currently managed by Vlada and her two sons Michael and Nicholas. To this day, Russian Samovar attracts the bohemian Americans, Russian emigrants and tourists. This year, the restaurant celebrates its 35th anniversary.

History of Russian Samovar:

Russian Samovar's history predates the establishment itself. Samovar, formerly Jilly's Canteen and owned by Frank Sinatra's friend Jilly Rizzo, was the go-to hot spot for Sinatra and The Rat Pack. Roman decided to keep the original red banquettes from back in the day as a nod to Sinatra, Johnny Carson, and the good old boys.  He also preserved the original bar from The Manchurian Candidate and unearthed original artwork from the talented people who frequented Jilly's before we were fortunate enough to purchase this landmark location.

Samovar has remained a popular hangout for celebrities over the years. They have had the pleasure of hosting Liza Minelli's impromptu shows, and rumor has it that Mel Brooks adapted The Producers to film while sitting at their bar. Voice actor Keith David pops in for dinner and a song whenever he's in town.  And the cast of Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812 waited nervously until the sun rose for their first review.

The elegant establishment is famous for its 26 flavored vodkas prepared in-house, alongside the finest Russian cuisine in New York.

Russian Samovar is a major supporter of the art community, with poetry readings held throughout the year and a classically trained pianist performs nightly. Russian Samovar hosts many live shows including their weekly Gipsy show.

Even though their walls are literally covered in history, Russian Samovar likes to think of themselves as a family. They have not abandoned the old values of comfort and acceptance, and hope to be able to share their family with yours. Visit

Photo Courtesy Of Lawlor Media Group