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Junior’s Cafe, after two decades in business, closes for good

April 3, 2017 By Christian Murray

Junior’s Café, which has been offering Italian food on the corner of Vernon Boulevard and 46th Road for the past two decades, has closed for good.

“The landlord put the rent up on me and we couldn’t afford to stay,” said Junior DiCaprio, the owner, who was at the 46-18 Vernon Boulevard restaurant Monday night. “I’ve been here 21 years and they wanted me out.”

Junior’s was known for its pasta, chicken and pizza. Its décor was dated, with vinyl bar stools, a glass bar and black-and-white photos all over the walls.

The restaurant was one of the older establishments in Long Island City and was seen as a neighborhood joint, bringing in more of the old timers.

Junior’s closure comes about one year after another long-time Vernon Boulevard establishment shut down. San Remo’s, an old-time pizzeria located on the corner of Vernon Blvd and 49th Avenue, closed last May.

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93 Comments

Patti

I bartended at Cafe Vernon for a bit during college and I loved working there. The people were so friendly and welcoming. I thought the food was pretty good. I appreciated the old world decor and can still see the value in it. To bad the new generations can’t see the value in tradition. I’m sorry to see this place close.




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MRLIC

Good riddance to that dump, unclear if they shut down for health violations for for being a mob front. “Junior” himself was anything but.




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Anonymous

I have to comment after reading all of these posts. I have been to Juniors and had their food so I feel it’s fair to be able to comment. I reserved my judgement on the decor of the bar and decided to give it a shot. The food wasn’t bad but it wasn’t great and there are a lot of places they were competing against with better food and decor. As far as these comments…it’s the old residents verse the new. Listen the neighborhood has changed and if they wanted to attract more people they should have changed. Maybe a little bit of a nicer bar or events would have attracted more of a crowd. Corner bistro is a small unpretentious bar and has tons of people always there so you can’t say it’s that people only want these hipster restaurants. Can’t blame the landlord because he should be able to make what he can on the space. You have to cater to who’s living around you and what they want. i’m sick of hearing from the old timers that the newbies are hipsters and are making this area terrible. This area used to be crime ridden. My great grandfather worked for Pepsi and he would love what’s happened to the neighborhood. I have lived in Long Island City for 6 years not because I can’t afford manhattan but because I loved the neighborhood feel of it. My whole family is from Queens and Brooklyn. I think the people on here that aren’t happy with the new people moving here should stop grouping us all together as being hipster transplants. Change is happening. You don’t have to be happy but you don’t have to be small minded.




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Isobel

Hmmm…. that’s funny. Perhaps should go and ask Junior who else he owes money to. His excuse for having to leave is comical and far from the truth. I would really, REALLY suggest you get the other side from the landlord instead of just writing this boo-hoo BS. The place looked seedy for a reason……..




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Tom tom

Isobel. Yes there was a rent increase Yes he landlord raised the rent. Or juniors still be open. So isobel get owing money has nothing to do with his closing. In fact I bet you owe money out yourself and ate in credit card debt. As for the seedy look get your eyes ?Checked out because you sound seedy.




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Anonymous

About twenty years ago when I moved to lic I went into juniors and didn’t like the vibe. The old guy workering there who appeared to be the owner gave me the 3rd degree and wanted to know if I was a cop, lol. Waiting for my food some guys at a table were talking about someone who would be released from jail soon. Idk, maybe I was there on ‘perp’ night but it wasn’t for me. Food wasn’t bad though. Went back years later and was told it was under new management (guessing all the old timers took their track suits and moved to Florida). The food was ok. It’s a good location, hopefully the next spot can take advantage of that and do well despite the rent.




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Since 1987

It was the first establishment I entered when I moved to Long Island City. It was called The Partenope back in 1987. My wife and I rented from one of the cooks. Can you imagine a cook and her taylor husband affording a house in Long Island City? Later it changed to Cafe Vernon, then Stephanie’s and finally Juniors. One year my son had his little kid birthday party in the back room. I eventually quit going there when other options opened in the neighborhood. They got my order wrong so many times I gave up on the place. What we need now is tacos. Yeah, that’s what I am hoping for.




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the real LIC man

Everyone who moved here from Westport is a loser who cannot appreciate life. Go back to Westport you Westport loser. Off to Westport with you. And let me just say once again – I do not like people from Westport.




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your neighbor

Such a cool place with decent food AND A METS SIGN IN THE WINDOW!
Very sorry to hear about this.

Place has been there since forever, could have probably bought the building for next to nothing a decade or two ago, but that ship has sailed.

Not many places around anymore with character.




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Paul

We need franchises…plain and simple. It’s time to bring the Starbucks and McDonald on Court Square. They will do more in business than every single brunch joints in LIC combined. Because the hipster may scream “local this, local that” but theyll be the one rushing for the dollar menu.




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GiorgioLIC

Yeah, right. That’s just what we need. More McDonalds and Starbucks. That’ll bring character to the neighborhood.




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no thx.

no thank you.
However more businesses should be allowed to compete on vernon/jackson, that’s why we don’t have more people nights and weekends and why businesses keep opening then closing.




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zul

Very sad to hear this, had great times there. It’s so unfortunate that astronomical rising rents are running businesses of character away! And to all you naysayers, shut the crap up especially if you’ve never even stepped foot through the door, geez!
Sure we need more places like that tiny Tapas bar/cafe that charges $ 8 bucks for
a UFO beer? Get outa here ?




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Anonymous

According to Frank, every business needs to appeal to the boring asses from the Connecticut ‘burbs, Taipei and Moscow — that is, the current wave of residents in LIC. Talk about recipe for Lame. Just drive a stake through the neighborhood’s heart already. You’ll never get a lively neighborhood if you have to attract people who grew up in a shopping mall or in an oligarch’s mansion outside Red Square. This city is done, Done, DONE.




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Frank

No, you need to attract CUSTOMERS who will spend their MONEY. If you are too much of an idiot to be able to understand that business are, well, businesses, then I don’t know what to say. Your idea of what is “cool” or “Real New York” obviously isn’t paying the bills for these places. Reality bites, I guess. What is your solution, other than bloviating in this forum? Seriously…do tell, because, as far as I can tell, your are a troll.




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very specific anger...

Someone is being really angry and specific? Did some russian / taiwanese person from westport do something to you personally?

what’s with all the complaints? It didn’t work out, stop complaining. Then you open up a “value priced” joint and see how well it does.




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suckers.

Let them keep driving up the rents and attracting the entitled folks from wherever non-nyc they come from. If you are an old -timer, perhaps you also had the foresight to own your place. Watch these fools drive up the prices, and then sell them your spot for serious margin.

Let me know where Junior’s decides to re-open though, cause that pizza was gooooooooood.




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Anonymous

It’s sad to see some of these negative comments. That Bar & Restaraunt has been there since the days it was Cafe Vernon. Anyone who comes from this area knows this is a place to come to & have a reasonable priced good Italian home style meal, good pizza and always run into someone you know or possibly grew up with. It still lets you know your part of the old neighborhood. But if you plan on expecting Medallions of Veal with steamed vegetables that you can’t bite through for $60-70 a plate, then head west to the more upscale pricey restaraunts with an East River view. Maybe afterwards you can walk by the water & possibly see a floating body or some used condoms if your lucky. People who have know Junior know what he does for his friends & customers. Every year until recently, he would have an Old Timers Softball Game complete with a free barbecue & hundreds of free T- shirts. He would honor all the friends & families of friends that past away as respect. Free beers & soda all day when can easily charge in the bar. This is the type of man & friend to all that know him that some of you are critizing & say good bye because his decor or menus weren’t to your standards. Well who the hell are you ??? This was his life & how he feeds his family. No different then getting laid off or fired. How would you feel ????




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Frank

The people would be the customers he wasn’t attracting. You know, his source of revenue?




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HB

Sounds like a nice guy who didn’t run the business well, and anyone who didn’t know about his softball game wouldn’t know a single thing about him. That’s not our fault, it’s business. Even lifelong New Yorkers can’t know all about every place in every neighborhood.




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Frank

I really liked Juniors, including the people who worked there and the food, and am sorry to see it go. But let’s be honest here. It did not have a sustainable business model and the owners did not invest in the business for 2 decades. It looked run down, poorly maintained, and was dated. Even simple things like the physical menus – a $1.00 fix – were left as is even when coming apart or faded. I was fine with that, accepting the bar for what it was, but that just isn’t cutting it nowadays in this neighborhood.

And, yes, it is possible to acknowledge this without being a “Westport transplant”, “uptight”, or “not a Real New Yorker(R)”. The people saying that really just need to get over themselves or move.




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No to Frank

You pinpoint a problem with New York today. Despite having great employees with a good food and decent food, businesses like Junior’s don’t have a chance with the kinds of people who live here. I’ve never stopped going to my favorite NYC hangouts because it had faded menus or looked “dated.” In fact, those were exactly the kind of traits I liked! Today, everyone flooding into this city is so damn precious and lacking in warmth. You people are ruining the soul of the place.




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Frank

The issue of faded menus results in new people not going, either because they question the cleanliness of the business or are plain not enticed. All businesses are leaky buckets, and, if you don’t bring in new customers, you go out of business. This becomes more acute as the competition opens new restaurants nearby. I was a consistent customer there, but that isn’t enough to stay afloat.

Juniors should have raised their prices 20-30% and evolved to draw business from the changing neighborhood. I could have seen them targeting young families, for example. In business, you evolve with reality or die.

As far as people lacking “warmth”, it isn’t people moving here. It is modernity. You better get used to it.




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brooklynmc

The old NYC was a very unfriendly, unsuccessful, dirty and dangerous place know for its rude behavior. The new NYC is a cleaner, safer, friendlier city that is known for being friendlier. You had found a place you fit into and it is changing. Rather than be a bad sport, accept the fact that things change. I will let this be a lesson for myself not to ever let myself become a grumpy old man who complains about everything and longs for the past.




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Basta

What the hell are you talking about? NYC was never unfriendly, unsuccessful (the most ridiculous of your claims), dirty or universally dangerous. It did have some neighborhoods that weren’t as nice as others, but could never be described in broad terms using words like yours.

The city may be safer, but that has brought in an endless wave of lifeless, boring people. Some are from other parts of the US, some are from other parts of the world, but almost all of them suck. They have no personality and don’t have the first clue what NYC is about. They are a NEGATIVE influence on the city, depleting it of its character.

And NY was never about being “friendly.” That’s superficial bullshit that NY’ers rightfully didn’t care about. Stop trying to turn NYC into a suburb, and pretend that it’s better for it.




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Yikes is right!

NYC was never unfriendly. It was the stereotype stated that NYC-ers are rude, that all the transplants took to heart and made a reality when they got here. Born and raised in NYC, I have only seen the city get more hateful, and hiding behind these anonymous posts only allow it to go on.

Pizza was good, will admit though that the staff wasn’t terribly welcoming of new folks.




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SprunkStar13

My husband and I gave this place a couple of tries as we wanted so badly to love this place. On our last attempt at lunch on a Sunday, the place smelt of pinesol and beer and we could see little bugs on the window sill. Everytime we walked by, the place was empty. It’s not a surprise they are closing. I feel badly that they couldnt survive in the new climate, but if the landlord is raising the rent – and they aren’t doing good enough business, it is just the way it is.




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Sandi

It seems anonymous always protecting Juniors.. could it be a relative or owner that can’t see past their wrongs and admit that if you had a strong business and as loyal customers as you say then a rent increase certainly wouldn’t take you out of business after 19 years .. Just saying time to look inside and stop blaming rent increase to justify that you sucked as a business person and weren’t making money.




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Amadeo Plaza

This is really disheartening. On more than a few occasions I’ve taken family here, and my wife and I really enjoyed the pizza. It was one of the first restaurants we took my son to when he started eating solid foods. Haha. Really good memories here. Very sad to hear this 🙁




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John Ricci

Hi just raise your prices like the Old Homestead Steak House does.. BUT you must have top quality PRIME meat and they will come and I am sure you know the rest.. GIVE IT A CHANCE




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Janice

So sorry to see Junior’s close, it’s the last of the authentic places in the neighborhood. It will probably be replaced by a new place trying to look like a real bar with character. All shiny and new for the newcomers who think anything with real history and stories to tell is “dated.”




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Ginger the Pirate

This is a bummer. I have only been LIC for a few years but this is our favorite casual spot. Heartbroken.




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Anonymous

Junior’s was the most neighborhood thing about neighborhood. Such a great loss.




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Bianca

I loved Juniors – bartended for a short while studying for the NYC BAR exam – Jr. & Everyone I worked with was like family. Even the clients who became regulars were like a second family to me and I still hear from them from time to time even after moving to Austin. So sad to hear this news such a special place. (Also the food was soooooo good!! I’ve never had better pizza or pasta fagiole) xoxo




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Lawyer

You took the New York bar exam and moved to Texas?? That’s just downright crazy.




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MRLIC

What’s next for this location another “High End ” restaurant or bar? Notice the landlord raised the rent. Hard to have a thriving business in NYC with rents and overhead. Seems many people liked this place, a shame.




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really..?

“Seems many people liked this place..” – Didn’t seem like it. Always seemed mostly empty compared to other places on Vernon and Vernon is usualyl not that crowded.




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Anonymous

In the heartless gentrifier’s lexicon, “dated” actually means warm, friendly, down to earth, reasonably priced, and, unfortunately, something increasingly rare in New York City. So long, Junior’s.




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HB

The outside doesn’t do it any favors. Look at the awning: STEAKS, PASTA, in smaller letters- Best Pizza in Town. That doesn’t give much confidence about the quality or what to expect. If the food was amazing there would still be great reviews, great crowds, and everyone would call it a hidden gem. But they market themselves poorly and didn’t execute well enough to stick around. I’ve lived in NYC all 31 years and it can be sad when old places close, but sometimes it’s because they just weren’t run well.




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Frank

Yes, dear, it is called business. You must be some sort of public sector worker or otherwise unemployable person.




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brooklynmc

You are the reason that news sites should get rid of comment sections. Childish, angry, narcissistic, rude, judgmental and combative. Let me explain to you that nothing is the way it was 30 years ago. That is life. I will try to refrain from ridiculous name calling and strange attacks on the places that people come from. All you talk about is how genuine, down-to-earth and friendly the old timers are while attacking and insulting a large, diverse group of people you don’t even know.




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HB

If you walk past a restaurant and it says STEAK but they specialize in pizza, how is anyone supposed to know that? The reviews weren’t too kind either. They messed up.




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Anonymous

I loved the pizza from Juniors. It was a hidden gem in plain sight. The staff and customers were always friendly. The pizza was really good and priced right!




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Heather

As long as the administration allows untethered development the soul of NYC will continue to be sucked out by new jacks who couldn’t wait to get here, but think our institutions and establishments appear seedy. Peace to the real New Yorkers.




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Anonymous

All these lame, scrubbed clean suburbanites from Westport need to relax a little. Just the idea that they think having a beer or meal at Junior’s is exploring the wild side shows you what a joke this uptight city has become.




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brooklynmc

You can poke fun at people from Westport, me, but the joke is on you. Time to leave, like Juniors and the Crabhouse. You are old and crabby. There are places in Westport from when I was a child that still survive today. Why? Because they were able to stay relevant somehow. Look at the Black Duck in Westport, Ct. That place should have closed years ago but they have a good burger, a nice location, and a good reputation… they wanted to stay in business and were smart. They tried. Unlike this place.




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Some unanswered questions from this post

Does the Black Duck have faded menus? And what about the font size on its awning? Is it too large, too small, or just right? Does it promote steaks but not sells them? Why do you think that is? Could it be considered seedy or dated? Does it execute well enough? Does it market itself poorly? Does it attract public service workers or otherwise unemployable people? Does it have a sustainable business model? Are the people who eat there lacking in warmth? How many of them come from Russia? Taiwan? Could it be a mob front? Does reality bite? Does the Black Duck have annual softball games? Do cars line outside on the street? Have you ever seen a body floating in the East River? How about used condoms? Did this happen before or after you ate at the Black Duck? Do the toilets smell like Pine Sol? What is Pine Sol? Have you ever eaten a medallion of veal? Have you ever worn one around your neck? Should people in Westport be considered boring or coll? Is the problem with you or people like you? Are you a pretentious snob? What exactly is a lexicon? re you a gentrifier? Are you happy with your font size or should it be bigger? Are you sad when old places close? Would you consider a move to Texas after taking the New York bar exam? Are gems often hidden or in plain view? Would you ever dine at the Old Homestead? Should menu prices be 20 percent higher? Should I move to West Virginia?




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Migroschrott

Yeah, good riddance! This place looked like a dump. How desperate would one have to be to eat there.

Hope something decent is going to move into that spot and it better not be ANOTHER one of those Italian restaurants.




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zul

That was a decent place you turn!? Get out of town to wherever it is you came from dumbass!




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[email protected]

You pretentious S N O B – Juniors was the last remaining venue that had the heart of Queens locals. Not the shitty transplant hipster service of the other spots along Vernon.




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yessir

it was kind of gross inside. no offense

i’m not a hipster nor am i a transplant.

been in Astoria for 8 years, working in LIC and Queens for about the same.

A lot of LIC residents DO NOT support local business. Even if they do, should something more interesting open up with better lighting and a somewhat appealing decor…..people leave to go there.

Juniors is a little out of the way, and i never personally saw a reason to go there. Though i wish i had at least once.

I find it unreasonable for a landlord to price someone out who has been around for 20 years. It is greedy and selfish. You try to work things out with the tenants you have, and if not….i understand having to let them go

There is no neighborhood here any more. we change fucking warehouses into Korean paleo BBQ restaurants, and Taxi Cab repair shops into a French Restaurant…..wtf is going on here?




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Basta

Agree with everything, although living there for 8 years hardly makes you a long term resident.




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WILLIE

I hope they don’t open up another 35.00 pizza pie place. All you Manhattan wanna bees, can’t afford to live in Manhattan so turn our real NYC neighborhood into a Manhattan Annex. Why dont you all go jog through queensbridge on a Friday summer night and feel the real N.Y.. Dousches!




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brooklynmc

I go though Queensbridge every single night. Actually not as bad as you might think. Pizza in LI City is about $20-$24. Show me a single pizza that costs $35. LIC was never a “real” NYC neighborhood. There were a few blocks maybe. I have been in NYC for 25 years. My Irish grandparents are from Greenpoint. You guys gotta get off your high horses. It is embarrassing just watching you.




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toots

Not a “real” NYC neighborhood? You have no clue. Do us all al favor and go back to Greenpoint with your grandparents. My mother and her mother were born and raised in LIC. How many blocks does it take for you to have a “real” NYC neighborhood? GTFO




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Ray Johnson

This is very, very sad! A family institution….gone. I feel for the family and staff. Such a friendly place where they actually talked with you!




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cityblurb

Lived here three years. Never went there once. Seemed like a “seedy” place every time I walked by home from the Subway, though it probably wasn’t.




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Anonymous

Why do you even live in a big city? If you think that a place like Junior’s is “seedy,” you are clearly not NYC material.




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brooklynmc

I have lived in LIC for 5 years and never stepped foot in there either cause it looked seedy. That is not our fault. Every time I walked by I looked in the kitchen to see a fat guy stuffing food in his mouth but never cooking. The place was dark with no windows so you can’t see inside. Is it our fault that they made a “bunker” that had to be entered to see it? Also, having a sign that read “best pizza in town” was ridiculous. Steaks? No way. I though it was a mob front.




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Frank

Probably the side door on 46th. It was open whenever weather permitted, and, as Brooklynmc said,there was usually a fat guy shoveling food in his mouth in there.




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Ginger the Pirate

I have lived here 3 years too. Visit to Juniors the day we decided to sign the lease was what sealed the deal. Get the fuck out.




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silent majority

@cityblurb.Your skinny jeans too tight or maybe your facial hair has blurred your vision. Your a clown




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Frank

And you base this stunning insight on what? Your own fears and inadequacies? Your own ignorance? Your own bigotry? Do tell, as it would be fascinating to figure out what variety of a**hole you are.




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Anonymous

This once was a really good restaurant. When Ronnie and Louie Lombardi ran Partenope, (Juniors) the food was delicious, hosts were always welcoming and a good time was had by all. The backroom hosted many family gatherings during happy and sad times. Juniors could have offered the same pleasant dining experience, but for unexplained reasons didn’t have the business that Partenope and Vinny and Rays prior to them had. I wish Junior and his staff all the best, however to blame the landlord is unfair.




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Michael

It wasn’t an upscale restaurant like a lot of what’s being built in Long Island City. But it was a great little place, fantastic food and a tremendous jukebox.
Everyone who lived here for a long time new Juniors and knew what a nice place it was, kind of like Cheers! We enjoyed it & the local to patronize it, for 12 years.




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Basta

You do realize that you are part of the problem, right? You just hustle from the subway to your apartment, without giving a thought to the neighborhood you are passing through, and how your presence has impacted the neighborhood.




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