Alan Rosen Interview
(Junior's Most Fabulous Cheesecake)

On the corner of Flatbush and De Kalb Avenues in downtown Brooklyn, New York stands Junior’s Restaurant, home to the Best Cheesecake in Brooklyn, the U.S. and the world!!

For over 50 years now, Junior’s has played host to famous singers, authors, movie stars, athletes, mayors, and Supreme Court Justices.

Alan Rosen is the owner of Junior’s.

You haven’t had cheesecake until you’ve had Junior’s Cheesecake.

Q – Alan, how much cheesecake do you eat?
A – I want to say I taste cheesecake once to twice a week. That’s my excuse. Notice I say taste. I get to taste. Then the calories don’t count. I’m good for 2 forkfuls each time or 3 depending how many flavors I’m tasting. Every time I do any kind of interviewing I taste it. I do some quality control checks every week.

Q – Do you know who’s eating all this cheesecake?
A – America. It’s the most popular dessert in the world.

Q – Do you ever break it down further than that?
A – No. I don’t do demographic studies on how people are ordering. I know it’s people who like good food: people who just like good, wholesome comfort food. I don’t look into zip codes and all that nonsense. That’s not my style. We’ve always made good products. People have sought us out and taken advantage of that.

Q – Your recipe for cheesecakes is a closely guarded secret?
A – Correct.

Q – How many people are baking your cheesecakes every day?
A – We have one gentleman who mixes the ingredients. There are other people who help put it in the oven, move it around, take it out of the pan, grease the pan, set up everything. But, one guy does all the mixing.

Q – Could this gentleman, or anybody for that matter, walk off with the recipes?
A – They could. We’ve been doing this for 50 some odd years and it hasn’t happened yet. Most guys retire here.

Q – How much competition do you have in New York City?
A – There’s no one that I know of that’s a true New York cheese co. Every mom and pop bakery like we are makes cheesecake, but, no one claims to have the best cheesecake in New York.

Q – Because that’s your specialty.
A – Yeah. Everybody else does layer cakes. We do layer cakes also. If you’re a whole sale baker wherever you are you have to sell cheesecake. It’s a very popular item. But, I can’t make it for everybody and I don’t really do any wholesale. So, there’s someone making cheesecake out there but, it’s not a named co. that I can tell you. Outside of this market, there are other cos. You’ve heard of the Cheesecake Factory of course.

Q – Of course.
A – But, our cheesecake speaks for itself. I’d rather not speak about the competition or lack there of.

Q – Why did your grandfather start this business?
A – I’ll give you the long and short of it. My grandfather was a soda jerk on the Lower East Side as a child. His mother made him save a nickel a week. By the time he was 19 he bought a half-interest in a soda shop. He re-named it the Enduro. Him and his bother went to work in this soda shop and built it up. By the time they were 25, they had 5 (soda shops). They had one in Brooklyn where we are right now, in my restaurant, Junior’s Restaurant and they had 4 in Manhattan. He went away on his honeymoon in 1929 and the stock market crashed. Because of that he was forced to sell 4 of the 5 restaurants. He sold all 4 in Manhattan and kept the one in Brooklyn. He operated the Enduro from 1929 to 1949. In 1949 times changed. It was time for a different restaurant here. The Enduro closed, re-opened on Election Day in 1950. At that point my father Walter and his brother Marvin worked side by side. They had a small restaurant here which has grown into a very big restaurant. Part of his first plan in 1950 was if we’re gonna be a great restaurant in New York we gotta have great cheesecake. Him and his first baker would go around tasting, testing and buying other cheesecakes. Back then every restaurant made great cheesecake pretty much. We started making our own cheesecake. In 1973, New York Magazine did a blind taste test, went around to different bakeries buying cheesecakes and voted our cheesecake the Best in New York. And, our customers have been telling us that ever since. Thankfully. Most restaurants don’t last 3 generations. Most businesses don’t last 3 generations.

Q – What if Junior’s had not been recognized as having the Best cheesecake, would that have mattered?
A – I don’t know. We were still a good restaurant. We still sold a lot of cheesecake. Even guys who don’t win their competitions have their fans. You know, everyone’s got their devoted customers and we happen to have ours. We’re very fortunate.

Q – Why does Junior’s need a publicist?
A – We never had one. O.K.? We never had one ever. People used to call up here wanting to write articles and we used to hang up on ‘em. When I came to work for the business, I just wanted someone to handle that stuff for me. You know what I’m saying? We’re busy with our mail order business and our restaurants. We wanted someone to handle it. It just helps us get through it. They don’t generate the leads. They help us get the information to people like yourself. We don’t need press-----no offense. We’ve got articles plastered all over the place. We get hundreds of write-ups a year, but, most people call us directly. I got a call the other day from a newspaper in Japan wanting to write about New York cheesecake. I could spend my whole day fielding these calls. I’m worried about running a restaurant.

Q – Your father would like to see Junior’s develop into a multi-billion dollar operation. To make that happen you would almost have to franchise Junior’s. Are you prepared to do that?
A – We would never franchise. We’re gonna open more restaurants, but we’re gonna do it under our ownership.

Q – Where will you be opening these restaurants?
A – Right now, we’re gonna for one more in New York. That’s what we’re looking at in the immediate future. We’re not going to be a billion dollar co. ever, quite frankly. But, we’re a multi-million dollar co. and we’re happy. Our products are still the same in Grand Central Restaurant as they are here and that’s the goal. We’re never gonna open up more than one restaurant every couple years.

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