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Announcement of plans for original Junior’s saddens Brooklynites, others

The familiar facade of Junior’s in Downtown Brooklyn, as seen at night. Wikipedia photo by Jim Henderson

Restaurant Has Been Popular Since 1950s

Brooklyn Daily Eagle

Junior’s, the venerable restaurant and cheesecake emporium at Flatbush and DeKalb avenues, is up for sale, and observers say the site is likely tobe  redeveloped into a luxury condo development – but with a Junior’s on the ground-floor level.

According to news reports, while construction is underway, Junior’s will have a second, temporary location in Brooklyn. The restaurant’s management plans to keep this new site open after it reopens its original site after construction.

Comments on Twitter showed that many felt sad about the news. The comments mixed an obvious love of Junior’s with dismay about what many of the tweeters regard as the all-pervasive spread of condo developments throughout Downtown Brooklyn.

“Say it ain’t so! Junior’s is selling its flagship location on Flatbush Ave.,” said Zach Haberman.

“So sad to hear that historic, fantastic Junior’s is being razed for condos,” said Herb Lester – writing from London.

Natasha & Alexandra, two women from Providence, Rhode Island, said, “Junior’s selling its flagship in Downtown Brooklyn. Condos, of course.”

Anna Dorfman said, “This is crushing news. How come the original Junior’s is not land-marked?”

Stacy Cowley, a staff editor at the New York Times, said, “I am really, really sorry my neighborhood’s ‘IT WILL ALL BE CONDOS’ manifest destiny ate Junior’s. And Times restaurant critic Pete Wells tweeted, “Coming to Flatbush from the bridge at night, Junior’s flashing lights are the real ‘Welcome to Brooklyn’ sign.”

Junior’s, which also has outlets at Grand Central and in the Times Square area, was founded in 1950 by Harry Rosen. It replaced an earlier diner and bar known as Enduro’s that was also owned by the Rosen family.

Junior’s is famous for its cheesecake, which is delivered all over the world. But the restaurant is also known for cocktails, overstuffed sandwiches, potato pancakes, cheese blintzes and burgers.

Over the years, it has been patronized by celebrities. During last fall’s mayoral campaign, Democratic candidate Bill de Blasio took President Barack Obama there. All in all, Junior’s received four out of five stars on the “Yelp” restaurant review site.

Locally, Junior’s is the scene every year of Brooklyn attorney Steve Cohn’s famed Halloween cheesecake breakfasts, to which he invites leaders from all spheres of life and politicians from both parties. “I fully intend to have my breakfast there next year. The year after that, construction will probably be under way, but I will have it at their newer site,” Cohn told the Eagle.

“They have a fabulous menu and the best cheesecake in the world. Tell Alan Rosen [the owner of  Junior’s] that I will always have my breakfast at Junior’s,” said Cohn.

Of course, much has changed since Junior’s first opened. In the 1950s, the nearby Fulton Mall was hopping with department stores, and the Brooklyn Fox and the Brooklyn Paramount were presenting rock and roll shows starring the likes of Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis.

Today, very little remains from that era in the neighborhood other than Junior’s. Its survival is a testament to the devotion of its fans -- as well as its propitious location near the approach to the Manhattan Bridge and across the street from Long Island University.

Rosen, the owner of Junior’s, did not return several phone calls from this newspaper by press time.

The last time Junior’s was closed was in 1981, when it was hit by fire and had to be remodeled. The following year, then-Gov. Mario Cuomo declared May 27 as “Junior’s Restaurant Day.”

February 20, 2014 - 4:00pm


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