Samuel Capsouto, the last of three brothers who helped establish the neighborhood, dies at 76

Samuel Capsouto, the last surviving brother of Capsouto Frères, a Tribeca institution named for three men who played a huge role in the development of the neighborhood, died on May 19, surrounded by his wife and children. He was 76.

The brothers’ restaurant on the southeast corner of Watts and Washington — it is now being reopened as a private social club — was a hub for northern Tribeca for three decades, especially with its lively loading bay seating area that opened onto the street. The trio opened there in 1980 with their mother, Eva, and closed in 2012, after Sandy. All three brothers lived in Tribeca and Samuel raised his family here as well. His daughter Magee had this recollection of Sept. 11th; over the following weeks, her father and uncles would keep the restaurant open in order to feed the city officers and workers at the World Trade Center site.

The closing of the restaurant was certainly the end of an era for the neighborhood and its pioneers. “This is the saddest news I’ve heard,” Claudine Bazini wrote in 2013 on the site. “Dinner at Capsouto Freres was always such a treat. It wasn’t just the food that was excellent but the hospitality and warmth of the brothers. A little laughter with Sami or a chat with Jacques. It felt like coming home.”

“I moved to Washington Street back in 1987, long before that neighborhood got hot; the surrounding streets were largely deserted,” wrote another commenter. “Capsouto Freres was an oasis.”

Each family member had a role: Albert ran the front of the house, Jacques ran the kitchen and Samuel did the accounting; their mother was at the restaurant every day until her death in 2003. As the years went by, the restaurant continued to be a family affair: Samuel’s wife, Kathy, worked for many years in the back of the house and after Albert’s death also as hostess. Both of Samuel’s sons worked at the restaurant as well: Marco on the floor and Asa, who received his culinary degree, in the kitchen, becoming somewhat of a master of souffles.

“It was really a family effort, including a third generation,” Kathy said.

Samuel and his brothers were born in Cairo and emigrated with their family from Egypt in 1956 as part of the mass expulsion of Jews during the Suez Canal War. They spent four years in France before settling in New York City in 1961. Samuel graduated with a BA and MA from NYU and taught while a fellow at the Sorbonne in France. After the close of Capsouto Freres in 2012, Samuel volunteered at the Museum for Jewish Heritage, translating and annotating primary documents and assisting in digitizing and cataloguing music from around the world.

The youngest brother, Albert, died in 2010 of a brain tumor at age 54; the local park on Canal and Varick is named for him and his 20 years of service on Community Board 1. Jacques, who started a vineyard in Israel in 2011, died last July at 77.

Samuel is survived by his wife, Kathy, his children Marco Capsouto of New York City; Magee Capsouto and her husband, Mathew Koveal, of Philadelphia; and Asa Capsouto of Superior, Colorado. “He was a kind, gentle and generous man,” Kathy wrote, “and is greatly missed.”

With respect for Samuel, the family requests that any tribute be made through a donation to the Jewish Joint Distribution Committee.



  1. sad news indeed. may their memories be our blessings

  2. We are very saddened to hear this news and send our deepest condolences to the Capsouto family. The restaurant community in Tribeca has always felt a bond of affection, mutual, and friendship. We loved the Capsoutos, we all dined in each other’s restaurants, and we all did our best in the months following 9/11 to feed the first responders and aid in the recovery of the neighborhood. There was an honorary ceremony of thanks at the City Council at City Hall, and I remember walking with the Brothers, and their Mother, Eva. She was beaming with pride. The Capsouto Freres Souffles were the best I ever had anywhere. Now, the legacy is part of history. They live on inside of us, and their Souffles will never fall.

  3. Without question the heart and soul of Tribeca.
    My love for the family lives on


  4. When my women’s group feted me on my 50th birthday they asked me to pick my favorite spot so we celebrated at Capsouto Freres. Albert sat ( and argued with me) on the old Tribeca Committee on CB 1 and his sudden and gut-wrenching early death stunned us all. Sitting Shiva with Jacques was beyond heartbreaking.

  5. My first date with my husband Steven 42 years ago was at Capsouto Freres. My husband did business with the Capsoutos since they opened the restaurant shortly before. We became fast friends with the whole family including Mama Eva. We celebrated birthdays at Capsouto Freres and family milestones. We lived and worked together through 9/11, mourned at the death of Eva and grieved when my dear friend Albert passed. The closing of the restaurant after surviving 9/11 and the death of Albert, was a cruel end to this important Tribeca institution. The final chapter of Jacques and Sammy’s life came too soon. But rather than close on a sorrowful note, we will always remember their warm welcome, laughter, joy and their uniqueness that only the Brothers Capsouto could bring to our community

  6. Capsouto Freres was a wonderful place where people could get great food at affordable prices. Mama Eva was always in the front of the restaurant keeping order and avoiding mayhem. It was a great private restaurant during the early rebirth of Tribeca. Dan Alterman Reade Street

  7. I worked at Capsouto Frères when it first opened in the early 80s and remained friends with Jacques, Samuel, Albert and Eva in the years following visiting many times and bringing my own family. They are sorely missed.

  8. Oh dear friends, we are so very sorry to hear of Sammy’s passing. Our deepest condolences to you all. Our hearts are very saddened by this news. Sammy was a character and we always had a smile on our faces when we talked of him. Sending lots of love to you all. Jill, Bonnie and Steven

  9. Wonderful memories of the kids growing up, Cathy, their dog! And Sammy’s smile and bemused sense of humor. A warm loving guy whether walking around the circle in The Buffalo Colony or in NYC.
    Will miss you,
    Bonnie, Jill and Steven

  10. We celebrated my mothers birthday October 17 every year for almost 23-25 years and this was also the Restaurants anniversary. We always felt at home being greeted by mother at the door and then chatting with all brothers. Champagne and the cake were gratis that day. Very fond memories and this is what makes New York so special!!!

  11. Thank you for sharing your memories of Samuel. and your kind thoughts for me and our children. He indeed was a character, and a most kind and generous man. We miss him so very much.