A couple of months ago, we sat down with Alan Rosen, and he recounted more than six decades of family history centered around the downtown Brooklyn address of Junior’s (386 Flatbush Avenue, 718-852-5257), the restaurant his grandfather opened in the ’50s, creating a neighborhood beacon that was determined to serve the best cheesecake in New York City. Junior’s has expanded into multiple outlets over the years, and earlier this summer, Rosen was getting ready to part with the original Flatbush Avenue location — the space was up for sale, and the owner was getting ready to sign a lease for another address closer to Barclays Center.
But in a major reversal, Rosen has pulled Junior’s off the market, and he’s dropped his plans for a new flagship. His family’s restaurant is staying put.
“When you go through something like this, you do a lot of soul searching, and you realize what’s important to you,” he explains. “You realize that something you love so very much can’t be sold. You realize that we have customers and employees and a community that’s been such a part of our lives and vice versa for 64 years. And the thought of not being there for a week or two or three years or forever is something you just can’t stomach.” And so despite the financial lure — Rosen was offered $45 million for the space — the owner made an emotional decision to keep the place, saying he just couldn’t forsake the christenings, weddings, holiday celebrations, graduations, and anniversaries he’s witnessed there over the years.
Moreover, he didn’t want to give up his own history. “I spent my childhood at this restaurant,” he says. “My kids have had the opportunity to do the same, and that will continue, which makes me feel great.”
In the process, he’s also given up on a different Brooklyn location, despite the fact that, as he told us in our July interview, the new spot could coexist with the old. “Through this, I realized I wanted to focus all my attention on what I currently have going on,” Rosen says. “The tradition lies in that location, and that’s what I want people to experience, the same place people have been experiencing for 64 years. So I’m really happy to announce that we’re staying put.”
The old Junior’s address will get its usual yearly updates, says the owner, to keep the place looking fresh. And Rosen says his father, who still visits the Brooklyn restaurant every couple of days, is particularly please with the outcome: “To says he’s thrilled would be an understatement,” says Rosen. “I’m glad we settled on a decision I feel is very right. Right for me, our guests, our employees, and downtown Brooklyn.”
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on September 9, 2014