Junior’s is off the block.
The iconic, original Junior’s Restaurant is Downtown to stay after a six-month-long flirtation with developers eager to take a bite out of the prime real estate it sits on at Flatbush Avenue Extension and DeKalb Avenue, owner Alan Rosen said this week. Rosen put the 64-year-old family restaurant and bakery up for sale in February but announced this week that he simply could not part ways with the place, even for $45 million.
“Junior’s is part of Brooklyn’s history,” Rosen said just before receiving a high-five from a customer showing her appreciation for his decision to stay put. “Junior’s and Brooklyn go together.”
Rosen, a third-generation owner of the building and establishment, was angling to secure the business a spot in whatever tower got built on the site. Offers reached as high as $45 million but the top bids did not include room for a new Junior’s and the two years the others would have shuttered it for were too long to bear, Rosen said.
“When push came to shove, I just couldn’t do it,” he said.
Peter Tyson, who has worked at Junior’s for 30 years, said he breathed a sigh of relief when he heard the news.
“I was disappointed that we could have been losing our home,” he said. “Now my shoulders are much lighter.”
Robin and Butch Young booked it to Junior’s from Crown Heights when they heard the news.
“This is like an icon in Brooklyn,” said Robin, who remembers coming to Junior’s after her high school graduation in 1982. “We didn’t want to see it go.”
Another group sitting in a booth next to the windows lining Flatbush called Rosen over to thank him.
“Hey Mr. Junior’s,” said Ingrid Lockhart. “Today’s my birthday! This is a great present.”
Harry Rosen opened a restaurant called Enduro at the corner back in 1929. After a renovation, he reopened as Junior’s on Election Day in 1950. His sons ran the place starting in the 1970s, and Alan, Harry’s grandson, took over in the 1990s.
“I bleed orange and white,” Rosen said, referring to the eatery’s iconic logo. “Or maybe cheesecake.”
Landmarking Junior’s would make it very difficult to tear down and build over, but Rosen said he has no interest in securing the designation because of the red tape it would entail.
“I’m not interested at all in landmarking the building,” he said. “Then every time I changed a lightbulb I’d have to get it approved.”