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Junior’s Restaurant owner is cheesed off about quality of life in New York: ‘We want our city back’

Life in New York City is no cakewalk — and it’s getting worse, says the owner of one of Gotham’s most famous eateries.

And Alan Rosen, the proprietor of Junior’s Restaurant, would know.

He’s on the ground every day at his three shops in downtown Brooklyn or Times Square.

Residents are getting creamed, he said.

“This is not a cheesecake. The product of New York City needs to be polished. It needs smoothing over. It needs a little shine,” said Rosen, 55.

Alan Rosen, the proprietor of Junior’s Restaurant, is speaking out about the declining state of New York City. Junior's
Alan Rosen, the proprietor of Junior’s Restaurant, is speaking out about the declining state of New York City. Junior's

“You need to change the narrative. You need to change reality. We need the city to deliver a better product.”

He’s also got beef with New York pols’ seemingly permissive attitudes toward crime.

“When did it become OK to shoplift a pharmacy? In what society is that OK? People shouldn’t be able to shoplift at CVS,” Rosen told The Post in an exclusive interview.

“Enough! There are no consequences. That’s part of the problem.”

President Barack Obama and Mayor Bill de Blasio visiting Junior’s Cheesecake in Brooklyn in 2013. AP Photo/Charles Dharapak
President Barack Obama and Mayor Bill de Blasio visiting Junior’s Cheesecake in Brooklyn in 2013. AP Photo/Charles Dharapak

He said he’s concerned about the safety of his workers when they leave the job at night, and noted his daughter was assaulted at random in Bushwick last summer.

Rosen said his restaurants — often visited by heavyweight pols including President Barack Obama and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) — close before midnight during the week, while they were previously open into the wee morning hours before the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We feel uneasy. We feel unsafe. We want our city back,” he said.

The third-generation Junior’s owner decided to speak with The Post after seeing last week’s front-page story about the Citizens Budget Commission’s residents survey showing that New Yorkers feel things are worse today by virtually every measure than six years ago.

Rosen with his father, Walter Rosen, inside the Junior’s Times Square location in 2006. Matthew McDermott
Rosen with his father, Walter Rosen, inside the Junior’s Times Square location in 2006. Matthew McDermott

He also cited the assault on police officers by migrants in Times Square last month — near his two shops — as well as the recent A train subway shooting as other “trigger points” that encouraged him to speak out.

Here’s what Rosen had to say on the big issues facing the city:

  • The cashless bail law is a “disaster” for allowing a “few bad apples” — serial criminals — to roam the streets and strike again.

“Give judges the discretion to put people back in jail,” he said. “We’re letting a few bad apples spoil the bunch.”

Rosen highlighted the lack of consequences for shoplifting as one of the glaring problems with New York. Paul Martinka
Rosen highlighted the lack of consequences for shoplifting as one of the glaring problems with New York. Paul Martinka
  • The lack of support and respect for police is emboldening criminals.

“Our police have been handcuffed. Hire more police! We need to refund the police, not defund the police,” he said.

“You want to charge people to drive to the theater? That’s ridiculous,” he said.

“It’s expensive enough to come into New York. We should want more traffic in the city — people traffic.”

Rosen called the city’s congestion pricing plan “insane.” Helayne Seidman
Rosen called the city’s congestion pricing plan “insane.” Helayne Seidman

Junior’s renowned cheesecake and other goods are now made in a bakery in Burlington, NJ — which means his trucks will be subject to the congestion toll.

  • New York’s sanctuary policies “make it too easy” for migrants to obtain shelter and services without the ability to get jobs.

“It can’t be a free-for-all. I don’t know what else you would call it,” he said.

“Look how much we’re spending to house migrants in hotels who have no jobs instead of hosting visitors. It’s not helping anybody. We need to take care of the people who have been here first. People who have been here longer don’t feel they have been recognized.”

  • Too many city streets are dirty and there’s too much “aggressive panhandling” in tourist spots.

‘The trend is down’

Rosen emphasized that he has a lot of cheesecake invested in the Big Apple with his three stores, and wants to be a “cheerleader.”

“I spend more waking hours in New York than anywhere,” said Rosen, a Westchester resident.

The city has many “great” assets — such as the Broadway theater district. It’s still a mecca for entertainment, food and sports, he said.

“I want to encourage people to come here. I like to see the positives go up. The trend is down now in New York City,” he said.

Junior’s opened its main bakery in New Jersey a decade ago because Rosen said he couldn’t find a suitable, affordable space in the city.

“I couldn’t afford 7 acres of real estate to do that in New York,” he said.

But he considers his Jersey bakery part of the New York region.

Rosen called the assault on police officers by migrants in Times Square one of the “trigger points” that caused him to speak out. Manhattan District Attorney via AP
Rosen called the assault on police officers by migrants in Times Square one of the “trigger points” that caused him to speak out. Manhattan District Attorney via AP

Rosen said he was not singling out Mayor Eric Adams for criticism for the current conditions, but rated the city as at its best under former Mayor Mike Bloomberg.

While describing himself as “just a guy who makes cheesecake and corned beef,” Rosen, whose family’s restaurant opened on Election Day in 1950, admitted he has given thought to running for public office.

“I have thought about it. I might be persuaded,” he said.

“I’m not a politician. I talk too honestly. I want to get s–t done.”

The city needs to be run more nimbly, like a business.

“We need to get in front of the problem. If there’s a problem in my restaurant, we address it right then and there,” Rosen said.

“The city needs to be managed for regular people. It’s obvious we’re not doing the best we can. We can do better.”