When it Comes to Comfort Food, Junior’s Takes the Cake

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Food is serious business. Now, on The Main Course, host Barbara Castiglia will invite insiders on the front lines of food to share their expertise, strategies, and forecasts for navigating the ever-changing restaurant industry.

 

On this episode of The Main Course, Host Barbara Castiglia talked with Alan Rosen, Owner, Junior’s Cheesecake, the New York heritage brand since its opening on election day in 1950. Junior’s Cheesecake is a third-generation, small-business, and Brooklyn landmark. While best known for its light and super-creamy cheesecake, Junior’s also offers a full “diner-style” menu inclusive of sandwiches, soups, salads, steaks, seafood dishes–all with a side order of nostalgia and comfort. Castiglia and Rosen talked about Junior’s, surviving COVID-19 and his plans for the brand and restaurant moving forward.

“We have everything from matzo ball soup and corned beef and pastrami and brisket and roast turkey, to barbeque ribs and chicken.” -Alan Rosen

Rosen is the third generation to own Junior’s, with the restaurant opened by his grandfather, father, and uncle. While their goal was to have moderately priced comfort food, they also wanted to have the best cheesecake. They put in a lot of research to make it happen, going to different restaurants to taste test. The original owners then went into their kitchen to make it happen. But, they also serve comfort food dishes.

“We have everything from matzo ball soup and corned beef and pastrami and brisket and roast turkey, to barbeque ribs and chicken,” Rosen said. “You can get a piece of broiled salmon if you’d like. You can get chicken parmesan at dinner.”

For Rosen, he can always go for a Reuben, with the combination of grilled cheese, corned beef, and grilled sauerkraut. He also goes for matzo ball soup quite often. He also likes a simple turkey sandwich on rye with lettuce, tomato, and homemade Russian dressing.

The COVID-19 pandemic hit Junior’s just like all other restaurants. Rosen was in Brooklyn when the news of the closures hit. They went into triage mode, emptying all refrigerators, cutting down all the meat to consumer size, and allowing their employees to get a bag of items.

While the pandemic forced them to do takeout and bakery, overall, the restaurant hasn’t changed in almost 71 years.

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