Food News

Junior's Iconic New York Cheesecake Coming to South Florida

Long before Dominique Ansel's cronut and Momofuku Milk Bar's corn cookies, New York's cult favorite treat was Junior's cheesecake.

Since the opening of its original Brooklyn restaurant in 1950, Junior's decadent dessert was a sensation. In most New York households, a party or family holiday wasn't complete without one. Over time, the restaurant opened additional locations in Times Square, Grand Central Station, and Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut. Now, Junior's is poised to expand to New York City's unofficial sixth borough — South Florida.

Junior's owner, Alan Rosen, whose father, grandfather, and uncle founded the restaurant over six decades ago, is opening a restaurant at Mizner Park in Boca Raton — with potentially more locations to follow.

"We signed our lease last week," confirms Rosen. The restaurant, located at the former Ruby Tuesday's space, is expected to open September 2016. The 270-seat eatery (150 indoors, 120 on the patio), will feature a full bar. In addition, Junior's will offer a retail bakery and take-out department. Rosen tells New Times that since his father had moved to Delray Beach, he was looking for the right South Florida location for several years. Recently, a real estate broker reached out to him with what he thought was the perfect spot. "I went down to look at it 48 hours later and signed a letter of intent right away. When you know, you know."

The South Florida menu will be similar to the original Brooklyn location, serving what Rosen calls Brooklyn comfort food. "We have almost 200 items on our menu from corned beef to pastrami to broiled fish. You can have a nice meal that runs the gamut from a simple salad to a sirloin steak." Meats are cured in-house and everything is cooked fresh daily.

Of course, there's the cheesecake, made exactly the same way it was made decades ago. Rosen explains that when his family opened the original restaurant on Election Day of 1950, the partners wanted to make a dessert. "They hit upon this magical formula for cheesecake. The recipe literally has not changed, and how many things can you say haven't changed in 65 years? It's the blend of quality, history, and tradition that makes it so special."

There are, by the way, no secrets to the cheesecake. The recipe simply calls for cream cheese, fresh eggs, sugar, heavy cream, and a touch of vanilla. The batter is then blended for 45 minutes before the cake is baked in a water bath in rotating ovens. Rosen says he has absolutely no intention of changing anything. "I'm not going to be that guy. We still use the same ingredients that we did back in the day."

Rosen has his sights on an additional expansion of  Junior's into South Florida. Crain's New York reported the brand is also opening a Miami restaurant, but Rosen says he wants to first make sure the Boca Raton restaurant is up and running before announcing plans. "Once we get our feet wet and we form a relationship with the local community, I can see there are a few restaurants in the future. But, I'm sort of a one-trick pony. I want that first restaurant to be successful."

Junior's has also completed a large baking facility in New Jersey, allowing large-scale production of its famous cheesecake. That means the distinct possibility of Miami soon being able to buy cheesecakes at local grocery chains. Rosen already has his sights trained on Publix. "We're not there yet, but that's our goal. Now that we have this great big bakery, we are going after more clients. We are not in Publix yet, but I would love to work with them. I think they're an amazing company. They're on my wish list."

Until Junior's arrives in Boca Raton, Miami, and on the shelves of our local Publix, the famous cheesecake is available for sale through shopping channel QVC. Better yet, hop a flight and have an original Brooklyn experience.
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Laine Doss is the food and spirits editor for Miami New Times. She has been featured on Cooking Channel's Eat Street and Food Network's Great Food Truck Race. She won an Alternative Weekly award for her feature about what it's like to wait tables.
Contact: Laine Doss