Friday, October 25, 2013

President Obama Makes A Cheesecake Stop At Junior's In Brooklyn, New York

Sweet treats and stumping for Mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio during first visit to the borough...
President Barack Obama made an unscheduled stop on Friday afternoon at Junior's, the famous Brooklyn cheesecake bakery and diner.  He was joined by Democratic Mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio as he greeted surprised patrons and staff before purchasing two cheesecakes and cookies.  (Above, surveying the cakes with de Blasio)

The sweets from the red and white Flatbush Avenue landmark, founded in 1950, would not make it back to the White House.

"We'll be eating it on Air Force One," President Obama, jacketless and with his shirtsleeves rolled up, told thrilled employees.

He purchased a traditional, classic New York-style cheesecake ($34.95) and a strawberry-topped cheesecake ($44.95), boxed separately.  Junior's calls its beloved offerings "the World's Most Fabulous Cheesecakes."

The black-and-white cookies would make it home to DC:  Those were "for my girls," President Obama said.

He paid the approximately $73 tab with $80 in cash, telling staffers to keep the change.  The frontrunner in the mayoral race, de Blasio hovered as the President sweet-talked everyone.

"Do you know your next mayor here?" President Obama asked patrons and staffers as he worked the room, shaking hands, doling out some kisses, and posing for photos. 

The President lived briefly in Brooklyn in the mid 1980s, in the Park Slope neighborhood.  But while he often visits New York, the stop in the borough was his first since taking office in 2009.

The treat jaunt followed an earlier speech at Pathways in Technology Early College High School in Crown Heights, which the President praised in his State of the Union address.  It came ahead of an evening of high-dollar fundraisers in Manhattan with silk-pocketed donors paying up to $34,500 to rub elbows with the President.

"Brooklyn is blowing up right now," President Obama told the high schoolers.  "When I was living here, Brooklyn was cool, but not this cool."

Voting day is less than two weeks away in New York, and the President did a thorough job as he escorted de Blasio through Junior's.

"How are you? Nice to see you," the President told a woman sitting at a table with a male companion, before giving the woman a kiss on the cheek. 

"I hope you don’t mind I kissed your wife," he told the man, prompting laughs.

"It was pretty incredible. We’re pretty honored," said Junior's third-generation owner Alan Rosen.  He had very short notice from Secret Service that the Eater in Chief would be visiting, Rosen told The Observer.

"He greeted every single customer and every single employee in the building, which was quite gracious and amazing to me," Rosen said.  "Literally every single person."

The President left behind a memento, adding his autograph to one of the large holiday pumpkins sitting on a counter, signing right above a drawing based on a piece by the famed graffiti artist Banksy (above).

After about a half hour, the President got a huge round of applause as he departed Junior's, and was climbing back into his motorcade by 5:07 PM, heading for the helipad in Prospect Park in Brooklyn, to fly aboard Marine One to Manhattan for his DNC fundraisers.  

Huge crowds had gathered outside of Junior's, held back by a heavy police presence and blockades.  Brooklyn was shut down to traffic, creating much more of a snarl than usual during the Friday afternoon rush hour.

The White House noted Hurricane Sandy when announcing the President's visit to media, in an email sent to reporters after he'd already arrived at Junior's.  (Above, the President, owner Rosen, and de Blasio, in a Junior's Facebook photo)

"President Obama is with NYC Mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio at Junior’s, a Brooklyn landmark famous for its cheesecake and desserts, founded in 1950," the White House said.

"In 2012, immediately after Hurricane Sandy struck, the owners of Junior’s announced that a portion of their popular Pumpkin Cheesecake sales throughout the Thanksgiving season would benefit the Foundation’s relief fund.  The restaurant donated $5 for each cheesecake sale, helping the Brooklyn Community Foundation raise over $1.5 million for Sandy relief efforts."

Info:  Junior's is at 386 Flatbush Avenue Extension, New York, NY 11201.  Phone:  718-852-5257.

*Photos by AP/pool except for last photo, courtesy of Junior's Facebook