Junior's Restaurant (Brooklyn)
|Headquarters||Downtown Brooklyn, New York City
plus additional locations
|Products||Cheesecakes, desserts, drinks, Kool-Aid, coffee|
|Revenue||$200 Million (2005)|
Junior's is a restaurant at 386 Flatbush Avenue Extension at the corner of DeKalb Avenue in Downtown Brooklyn, New York City. The restaurant also has a location inside Grand Central Terminal in Midtown Manhattan, one in the Times Square area, and one in the lobby of the MGM Grand Hotel in the Foxwoods Resort in Ledyard, Connecticut. The restaurant was founded by Harry Rosen in 1950. According to the restaurant, it was named Junior's after Rosen's two sons, Walter and Marvin.
According to GO Brooklyn, "At the corner of Flatbush and DeKalb avenues in Downtown Brooklyn, there has been a diner run by the Rosen family since 1929. In 1950, the name was changed to Junior's, and it has been serving its famous cheesecake and other goodies ever since."
Rosen worked with master baker Eigel Peterson to create the cheesecake known today as "The World's Most Fabulous Cheesecake", based on a recipe that was in the Rosen family for three generations. In addition to cheesecake, Junior's features deli sandwiches (particularly corned beef and pastrami), ten ounce steakburgers, cheese blintzes, and unique onion rings. Fans of the restaurant are not limited to Brooklynites. A Kuwaiti prince was known to have taken several Junior's cheesecakes back with him.
In 1981, when the restaurant caught on fire, a crowd of people watching the firefighters started chanting "Save the Cheesecake!" The interior of the restaurant was modernized after the fire.
Rosen plans to strike a deal with a developer that will allow Junior’s to return as a ground-floor tenant, marrying the restaurant’s midcentury aesthetic, unfashionable quaintness and middling prices to a sumptuous, showy spire.
The building, at the corner of DeKalb Avenue and Flatbush Avenue Extension, is 17,000 square feet of red-and-white-striped menus, flashbulb-adorned signs, rust-colored booths and a wooden bar. A shrine to the Brooklyn of old, it has become a must-visit for politicians from Mr. Markowitz to President Obama, who bought two cheesecakes and a couple of black-and-white cookies during an October visit with Bill de Blasio, who was soon to be elected mayor. Junior's will close its current location in 2014 to make way for the new development. The developer could build about 102,000 square feet, several times the current size, said the broker, Robert Knakal of Massey Knakal Realty Services.
“Land values in that part of Brooklyn have skyrocketed, and they are sitting on a tremendous” — as in, tremendously valuable — “piece of property,” Knakal development said, predicting it would sell at a record price for Brooklyn. While the new building rises, Mr. Rosen plans to open a temporary beachhead and establish another Brooklyn location, possibly near the Barclays Center. (There are three other locations — in Times Square, at Grand Central Terminal and at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut.) When the construction is complete, Junior's will likely resume its tenure at DeKalb/Flatbush. (NYT: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/21/nyregion/juniors-brooklyn-site-will-be-sold-to-developer-but-restaurant-will-return.html?_r=0)
In popular culture
- Junior's cheesecakes have been sold nationwide through various outlets, including the television shopping network, QVC.
- The diner was featured in the Brooklyn Public Library's children's book of Brooklyn landmarks, Brooklyn Pops Up.
- In a 2003 Making the Band episode, "Da Band" was assigned to walk to Brooklyn and get a slice of cheesecake from Junior's for Sean P. Diddy Combs. They also filmed their single "Tonight" from their 2003 album Too Hot for TV in front of the restaurant.
- In 2010, Junior's defeated fellow New York City cheesecake shop Eileen's Special on an episode of Food Feuds as chef Michael Symon's choice for best cheesecake in New York City.
- Asimov, Eric (October 11, 1996), "Harry Rosen Is Dead at 92; Junior's Restaurant Founder", The New York Times
- Barron, James (May 9, 2006), "Provenance of Junior's Cheesecake Is Questioned", The New York Times
- Greenwald, Josh (March 12, 2001), "Historic Bites", The Brooklyn Paper
- Kennedy, Randy (February 19, 1997), "In Brooklyn, Passing the Torch of Success", The New York Times
- Johnston, Laurie; Oreskes, Michael (August 10, 1982), "New York Day by Day", The New York Times: B–3
- Quindlen, Anna (May 25, 1983), "About New York; City or Borough, Dodgers or No Dodgers, Brooklyn is Brooklyn", The New York Times: B–5
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