No amount of scrumptious dessert makes the news go down easier that Junior’s, maker of Brooklyn’s signature cheesecake, will soon shut its Queens bakery and reopen in New Jersey.
The move comes not because Junior’s is fading; its flagship restaurant beams brightly at the foot of Flatbush Ave. But the company, which churns out more than a million cheesecakes a year, cannot justify the cost of industrial real estate in the five boroughs.
Founded in 1950, Junior’s joins an exodus of established New York food-makers.
Streit’s, the venerable matzo baker still in its 1925 Lower East Side home, is decamping to Pennsylvania while pondering a move to Rockland or Westchester counties.
Hummus giant Sabra left Queens for Virginia.
Stella D’oro, whose heavenly scents once kissed the Deegan Expressway; Taystee, which moved its 400 Flushing baking jobs to Pennsylvania after fleecing the city for tax breaks; Bazzini, the Bronx firm that roasted Yankee Stadium’s nuts; and Old London Foods, a mighty maker of Melba toast, linger only in the sense-memories of New Yorkers.
Firms like those were canaries in the coal mine, lured away with the honey of tax breaks or repelled by the vinegar of union combat. Junior’s is the coal mine. That an employer of 60 felt it had no choice but to leave is a distressing sign of the city’s inability to retain middle-class jobs.
Among other forces, conversions of factories to living spaces — hello, Williamsburg and Long Island City — have helped drive the cost of manufacturing space out of reach.