Our story begins long before Opening Day in 1950. In 1929, Harry Rosen opens a restaurant on the corner of Flatbush Ave Ext and DeKalb, a luncheonette called the Enduro. Over the years, he expands the restaurant to several storefronts occupying the entire corner. After weathering several changes in the economy, including Prohibition and the Great Depression, Harry expands the Enduro to a full service restaurant with a night-club atmosphere including a raised bandstand with live entertainment.
After World War II, the returning servicemen did not have time or interest in visiting nightclubs and fancy restaurants. Brooklynites were busy rebuilding–their lives, their families, the city and the country after the war. The Enduro closed its doors in 1949.
The Tradition Begins
Harry Rosen was determined to recreate a restaurant on that famous corner. It was to be a new family-style place. Saddled by debt with the failure of the Enduro, he scraped together every dime he had and built Junior’s Restaurant, named in honor of his two sons, Walter and Marvin.
When Junior’s opened on Election Day in 1950, it was a modern restaurant in every way–with new neon marquee sign similar to the one on the Paramount Theater across the street, wood countertops and naugahyde booths. Junior’s had become a landmark from the start with bright orange awnings adorning the windows and the red, white and blue bunting that draped the restaurant on that famous Tuesday in November, 1950.
Who’s a Bum!
In 1955, the Brooklyn Dodgers won the World Series. The press had called them “the Bums” since the mid-1930s when the team could not get out of the cellar.
The Dodgers were the home grown symbol of how to win: when you get knocked down, you get up again-the eternal secret to success.
A Sign of Change
In 1957, the Dodgers played their last game at Ebbets Field. They moved to sunny LA. Brooklyn didn’t merely lose a baseball team. The Dodgers had been the fighters and scrappers who represented millions of people who had struggled to make good in a new country. On that last day at Ebbets Field, an entire way of life was eradicated. In 1960, the Field was demolished.
For Junior’s, it marked a definite loss of customers and a sign of a changing Brooklyn in the 1960’s. Harry’s son, Walter still has a small piece of brick from the famous ballpark mounted on a color rendering of the field. It sits in his office at Junior’s. In the restaurant, you can see stadium seats and memorabilia from that bygone era.
When Harry Rosen was rebuilding the restaurant, he hired Danish-born baker, Eigel Peterson to work full time turning out specialties for the new restaurant. Junior’s featured a full-service bakery replete with danish, rugelach, and cakes from day one. The Rosen family saw all the changes in Brooklyn in the 1960s including the flight to suburbia, the rise of gangs, high unemployment in the boro and the city. However, Harry Rosen never thought for a moment that he would join the exodus from Downtown.
Junior’s in the 1960’s was a place where all colors of people in all styles of dress could gather without tensions. Good food and good service became the great equalizer. Harry was a keen competitor and when it came to cheesecake he was determined to have the Best in Brooklyn. Baker Peterson and Harry perfected a cheesecake recipe by the 1960’s that had become a very popular dessert. They conducted laboratory-like experiments until they hit upon the magic formula. The same recipe and techniques we still use today.
Times They are a Changin’
As many families left Brooklyn to move to suburbia, a new population moved into Brooklyn. First generation Americans, immigrants, moved to the neighborhoods. The economy was changing too as many jobs left the city. Bobby Kennedy campaigned for the Senate and Presidential election in Brooklyn. Here he is in 1965 when he pledged to keep the Navy Yard open.
As Brooklyn continued to change throughout the 1960’s, so did Junior’s. Harry Rosen retired and his sons, Walter and Marvin took over the business. The menu changed to reflect the new tastes of the customers including southern specialties like Fried Chicken, ethnic favorites like Shrimp Parmagiana. Of course, the cheesecake remained and was as popular as ever.
Throughout this time of the changing Brooklyn landscape, when many businesses went bust and the many buildings deteriorated with the struggling economy in the city, we remained. The Paramount closed. But we kept turning out cakes and cheesecakes the same way, 365 days per year. The famous “Burgundy Room” opened in 1961 and it was the scene for many celebrations, office parties, and graduations.
In fact, for the next 20 years, only three men actually knew and made the entire secret recipe and baking process for Junior’s famous cheesecake.
And the world takes notice…
In 1973, we found our cheesecake celebrated in print. Rosen Rosenbaum of The Village Voice had this to say…”There will never be a better cheesecake than the cheesecake they serve at Junior’s…it’s the best cheesecake in the material world.” That same year, New York Magazine conducted a blind taste test and rated Junior’s the best cheesecake in New York.
To celebrate we ordered orange-colored “We’re #1!” buttons for our entire staff. We’re still making history with our cheesecake which we deemed “The World’s Most Fabulous.” New Yorkers and the world took notice with lines out the door and down Flatbush Ave for a slice of our heavenly cheesecake.
From Out of the Ashes…
In 1981, late on a hot Sunday, August 17th, a fire destroyed the roof and top floor of Junior’s. As firefighters shot water into the building, onlookers chanted: “Save the cheesecake, save the cheesecake!”
For nine months and three days, Junior’s was closed. We opened a temporary kiosk in Albee Square Mall next door to sell cheesecake that we baked at a nearby candy factory.
On May 27th, 1982, we reopened Junior’s on our famous corner. It was a huge block party with the entire street closed.
People stood in line to get a seat in the remodeled restaurant..
At the reopening of Junior’s in 1982, Harry Rosen thanked God, Brooklyn, and everyone for coming. Borough President Howard Golden and Senator Marty Markowitz attended with Harry, Walter, and Marvin. Golden declared May 27th to be Junior’s Day in Brooklyn.
Senator Marty Markowitz said he’d lost 17 pounds since the fire and was looking forward to growing back into his old suits. The construction allowed us to include a sidewalk cafe as part of the remodeled restaurant.
Greetings from Brooklyn
In 1989, Junior’s Cheesecake became available for mail order and the entire country learned what Brooklynites have known for decades: “You haven’t really lived until you’ve had cheesecake from Junior’s.” We guarantee perfect delivery of your Junior’s cheesecake anywhere in the 50 states!
We ship our cheesecake straight from our bakery in stay-fresh packaging specially designed to safely transport our cakes. Your Junior’s Cheesecake will taste as fresh as if you were enjoying it in one of our restaurants.
Bring in the Family
Almost any day of the year, there’s a family at Junior’s celebrating a birthday, anniversary, graduation or homecoming. All marking the occasion with our famous cheesecake. Many of our famous billboards by the Manhattan Bridge or on the BQE remind Brooklynites to dine at Junior’s.
During this time a new generation of Rosens begin to take the helm at Junior’s with Walter’s sons, Alan and Kevin entering the business.
The Dessert of Presidents
During a campaign visit in 1992, President Clinton posed with our staff and tasted our cheesecake.
During this decade, Junior’s hosted several dignitaries, politicians, and movie stars. Many were regulars with their own favorite tables and dishes.
Mayor Guiliani dedicated the corner of Flatbush and DeKalb Avenue in honor of Harry Rosen. The event celebrated the publication of our cookbook, Welcome to Junior’s, in March, 1999. Our first cookbook revealed many of our secret recipes including the one for our famous cheesecake. It is also a memoir of Brooklyn and the Rosen family.
Even with recipe now out to be copied, no one at Junior’s was worried. It was the quality, time, and love involved with baking our cheesecake that was the real secret.
In 2000, we opened our second restaurant across the river in Manhattan at the historic Grand Central Terminal.
A Brooklyn themed tile floor and tables complete the decor as we continue to grow.
In 2003, Diddy demanded a slice of strawberry cheesecake from the members of Making the Band 2. They walked across the Brooklyn Bridge to Junior’s while rapping the lyrics to The Notorious B.I.G.’s “Juicy.”
Epic moment in reality TV history and evidence that Junior’s is now being enjoyed by an entirely new generation of cheesecake lovers.
Brooklyn in the Heart of Manhattan
In 2006, we opened our third restaurant with Junior’s Times Square at 45th Street and Broadway. Mayor Bloomberg welcomed us to the Crossroads of the World.
When we opened in 2006, our famous “Brooklyn, NY” sign on the Restaurant Kiosk confused tourists and locals alike who thought they exited the subway at the wrong stop.
Best Mailorder Cake
In 2006, the Wall Street Journal rated Junior’s Best Mailorder Cheesecake. That year we expanded our site to include 12 new flavors. Many are now served in our restaurants. “Everyone was happiest with the fresh cheesecake from Junior’s. Tall and slightly bronzed, it was creamier…”
We won Best Overall and Best Value above the rest of the competition. Order one today!
A Wedding Brunch
In 2008, Junior’s was celebrated in film as the location of the Carrie and Big’s wedding brunch in the Sex and the City movie. We thought this was wonderfully appropriate since every day happy couples celebrate their nuptials at Junior’s directly after tying the knot at Brooklyn Borough Hall down the street.
Trivia Fact–This scene was actually filmed at night. Studio lights flooded the restaurant making it look like daylight.
Luck Be a Cheesecake Tonight…
In 2008, we took our first great adventure outside of New York City. Junior’s at the Fox Tower at Foxwoods Casino is our grandest restaurant yet–with all of the excitement of Foxwoods Casino. We still serve the same great menu including steaks, burgers, seafood, and sandwiches all combined with a lively full service bar.
Visit us when in Connecticut at this lovely new addition to our family Junior’s restaurants.
Believe the Hype!
In 2012, we welcomed the Brooklyn Nets and Barclays Center to Flatbush Avenue. Just down the street from our landmark location, our new neighbor hosts a world-class basketball team, many of whom can be seen dining in our restaurant. Barclays is also the venue for headline concerts and shows. Visit Junior’s for a meal or cheesecake before or after an event.
The opening of Barclays is a sign of the changing face of Brooklyn. We’re back and better than ever. The neighborhoods are growing, which is evident by all the new construction in the area. And we’re still here, ready to serve the newcomers and our old regulars on Flatbush Avenue Ext.
Strawberry Cheesecake, please!
In October 2013, President Barack Obama and Mayoral Candidate Bill DeBlasio visit Junior’s in Brooklyn.
The President purchased an Original Cheesecake and a Strawberry Cheesecake to eat on Air Force One.