Owner: Buddy Sciandra
Cooperative: Associated Supermarket Group
Location: 300 Gordons Corner Rd, Manalapan, NJ
Photographed: February 2021
The Yorktown Center here in the western part of Manalapan was originally home to an ACME and a few other banners at one end, but this end of the mall has a small grocery space originally occupied by a 5100 square foot Key Fresh & Natural (owned by Eddie Hamad) in 2014, later becoming Uncle Gino's Marketplace (owned by Gino Palummo) in 2015 through 2018 or so. Buddy's Marketplace (owned by Buddy Sciandra) opened up in 2020, renovating the space with a nice fresh look.
The store's Italian-specialty-market positioning and layout make me think it's owned by different members of the same family that own Top Tomato stores on Staten Island and also previously in New Jersey, though the New Jersey stores all closed soon after opening -- given, of course, that they share the last name Sciandra. The family apparently also owned Vine Ripe Markets in Westfield before that closed, and my understanding of it -- though I could be very much mistaken, and I can't actually confirm this -- that other affiliates or family members own Scotty's Marketplace (formerly a Top Tomato) on Staten Island, and the Associated in Bulls Head (also formerly a Top Tomato). Given that this store was an Uncle Gino's and the Brick, NJ Top Tomato became an Uncle Gino's after it closed, it's possible that those chains are also related or the same family. It's funny that I'm doing all this research after going to the store, because I didn't know any of that while I was in the store while noticing prominent pictures of tomatoes around the store (see below and on the front sign) and that the layout is very much like a Top Tomato.
The layout of many of those stores is extremely similar. Here at Buddy's, we enter in the middle of the store with a few short grocery aisles and dairy/frozen on the right, with meat on the back wall. A deli is in the middle of the back wall, with produce on the left side of the store.
The dairy and frozen department at the far right side of the store. As we can see, it's a really attractive store with some great products. Plus, the manager-type who was on duty at the time of my visit -- he might actually have been the owner -- was very friendly to me and the other customers.
The deli/produce half of the store is where it's noticeably a very nice store, since the other side is just really cramped and a little hard to notice anything about the design of the interior.
But as we can see, it's really not a large store at all. Awesome merchandising and display though! Impressive work by the owners and, I'll mention, the Associated Supermarket Group which has been making big strides lately following the buyout of the cooperative from a private equity firm by its president and vice-president, who now function as co-CEOs. Make sure to check out the former ACME at the other end of the mall, and tomorrow we're heading back over to route 9 to check out two more stores just to the north -- again, one here and one on Grocery Archaeology!