Friday, September 12, 2014

Junior's owner has change of heart on development plans

From the NY Times:

Junior’s Restaurant has earned a lot of superlatives since it opened in Downtown Brooklyn on Election Day in 1950, among them the one that adorns every orange takeout box: “The Best Cheesecake in N.Y. — New York Magazine” (a distinction that dates to 1973, but still).

It was headed for another distinction this year, when Alan Rosen, who took over the business in 1992 and whose family has owned the restaurant since its first cheesecake, decided to sell the two-story building. In a neighborhood where real estate brokers talk about record-setting prices and rents the way pilots used to talk about breaking the sound barrier, the sale was major news. Offers to buy and build an apartment tower poured in from Brooklyn, Manhattan and abroad. The highest bid: $450 per buildable square foot, well over the previous high for Brooklyn of $350, for a total of $45 million in cash.

If the right firm buys up the land and air rights for the entire triangular block around Junior’s Restaurant in Brooklyn, shown, it would be quite possible to build to heights of 1,000 feet or more.

That’s a lot of cheesecake,” said Mr. Rosen — who, nevertheless, and after much agonizing, a visit to his therapist and a series of sleepless nights, turned it down.

Mr. Rosen turned down a bid as high as $450 per buildable square foot, well over the previous high for Brooklyn of $350, for a total of $45 million in cash. Credit Kirsten Luce for The New York Times
“This is Junior’s identity, is this building. This is the one where I came on my first dates. It’s where my family spent most of their waking hours,” he said in an interview on Monday, about a week after making his decision, as he contemplated his stewardship of a legend in Brooklyn. “Not the one down the street, not the one below 20 stories of condos. This one.”

When Mr. Rosen, 45, put the site up for sale in February, he said he would insist that the buyer bring Junior’s back to the ground floor of any new building. In the meantime, he said, the restaurant would open at another Brooklyn location and temporarily relocate the flagship within the neighborhood. (It also has outposts in Times Square, Grand Central Terminal and at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut.) But he wavered over the summer, saying he would consider leaving the building permanently for the right offer.

The $45 million offer would not have accommodated a ground-floor Junior’s.

Mr. Rosen said he also received offers worth half that amount that would have allowed the restaurant to return, but after receiving disappointed calls from customers and talking it over with his longtime employees, his wife and his 81-year-old father, Walter Rosen, who still walks around the dining room some mornings, he decided he could not give it up.

Though Mr. Rosen insists the turnabout was a personal decision, not an attempt to preserve the old Downtown Brooklyn of which Junior’s is one of the few remnants, he is bucking a trend.


ron s said...

Nicest news I've seen in months.

Anonymous said...

Sorry guys, but the cheesecake of La Cheesecake in College Point far surpasses the stuff made for Juniors in Maspeth,and at a far more reasonable price.Don't believe the hype!

JQ said...

finally,someone with a conscience.

although it may be already too late for the rest of brooklyn

Anonymous said...

Anyone who was in the restaurant business knows it is more than a business, it is a way of life. Rosen knows this is his family history and didn't give in to greed. Bravo.

Anonymous said...

Can you see anyone in Queens doing this?

georgetheatheist said...

Junior's cheese cake is meh. the ambiance is non-existent and the food is run-of-the-mill diner-quality. What's the big deal with this place?

Anonymous said...

Is there any place in Queens that's getting a nice renewal with a mix of retail / offices / residential like downtown Brooklyn? I don't think so.

Anonymous said...

Does something have to be a big deal? Why does everything have to disappear under a bulldozer?

The place is good, its unique, and doesn't have stupid overrated and overpriced precious cheese and craft beer.

People in Queens really need to get out more.

There is a big world out there.

Mike Francesa said...

How's the cheesecake? As a loyal Queens resident, I head to Cascone's.

Anonymous said...

Smart move Juniors. Wait for all of the surrounding development to finish over the next 5 years and then triple your money. It's the American way.

Queens Crapper said...

Junior's Cheesecake is made in Maspeth and they sell them there.

Ned said...

This reminds me. I suddenly remembered getting "Tuesday" I cream sodas at Jahn's like as kid so I took a ride and it was GONE !! That miserable experience was like being in some god forsaken episode of the Twilight Zone. After passing the green park It was as if I landed in Pakistani hell. (I haven been in that area for years)
---The drive home was like leaving a funeral !!


Anonymous said...

There's something I don't get here. Junior's is doing something positive here. It's a step against the overdevelopment of the area. What happens? We get criticism of their cheesecake (they're not the best, but so what?) and questions of their motives. What am I missing?

Anonymous said...

I thought Maspeth was in Queens. Juniors is in Brooklyn.

Mike Francesa said...

Thanks Crappy, I feel like I've been lied to all my life now. Brooklyn stealing our cheesecakes must not go unanswered.