Special Report: Top Tomato Superstore - Old Bridge, NJ (2024)

Top Tomato Superstore
Opened: June 20, 2024

Owner:Buddy Sciandra

Previous Tenants:A&P > Norkus Foodtown > Shop n Bag > Garden Farm

Cooperative:none

Location:3105 US-9, Old Bridge, NJ

Photographed:June 22, 2024

Special Report: Top Tomato Superstore - Old Bridge, NJ (1)

Special Report: Top Tomato Superstore - Old Bridge, NJ (2)

Old Bridge is a hotspot for new grocery store openings, it seems! The ShopRite relocated to a gorgeous new facility in March, SuperFresh opened to the west in Browntown in early June, and now, Top Tomato has returned to New Jersey with a new store in what used to be Old Bridge's Garden Farm Market. (An Amazon Fresh also appears to be in progress just to the north, and the old ShopRite -- which you can see at the link above -- is being subdivided, and it's possible one of the spaces could become a supermarket.) This

Special Report: Top Tomato Superstore - Old Bridge, NJ (3)

Top Tomato has a very complicated history which I will attempt to recount here, but to be honest, it's extremely confusing even to me. The chain originated in 1979 as a large produce market in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, and sold Italian foods alongside lots of produce. Similar stores eventually opened in Queens and Yonkers, and eventually by the early 2000s or so, to Staten Island. The Brooklyn and Queens stores closed over time; Yonkers remains open but appears to be under separate ownership. Top Tomato also ventured across the river into New Jersey, where they had stores in Brick (the first in the state I think, opened around 2005), Atlantic Highlands, Holmdel (later a Best Market and now soon to be an Amazon Fresh), and Freehold. I've heard, but couldn't confirm, that the short-lived Vine Ripe Markets in Westfield was owned by the same family. All the New Jersey stores closed -- some very abruptly -- by around 2016, which appears to be shortly before the original Staten Island stores were sold, too. One became Scotty's Marketplace in roughly 2019 or 2020. In early 2020, two Top Tomato stores on Staten Island became Associated; one closed shortly thereafter and the other became a Top Tomato again, then burned down, and now is "The Original Top Tomato" (not sure who owns that one). Also in 2020, Buddy Sciandra, the son of founder Carmine Sciandra, opened Buddy's Marketplace in Manalapan, NJ. In late May of this year, one of the two remaining Staten Island locations became a Key Food-affiliated Food Dynasty. So to summarize, at this moment: there are Top Tomato locations in Yonkers, Old Bridge, and Great Kills on Staten Island. Former Top Tomato stores in Rosebank and Tottenville, both on Staten Island, continue on as supermarkets under the Food Dynasty and Scotty's names. One more Staten Island location is "The Original Top Tomato", while the same family also owns Buddy's Marketplace in Manalapan. (Here's a bit more on this store's background.) Got it? Good, let's tour this store.

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The store is small, at just 10,000 square feet, so it's not quite a full supermarket. Still, it's more of a supermarket than Garden Farm that used to be here. We enter to the large produce department in the front 1/3 or so of the store, with packaged baked goods, prepared foods, and refrigerated produce on the right side. In the back and continuing along the back wall are very nice seafood, meat, and deli counters. There are three aisles in the back, with packaged meat, dairy, and frozen on the left side. Fresh bread, as you can see above, is at the front on the endcaps of the registers.

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I was wondering how the owners were going to install decor in such a short time. Turns out they weren't going to. There's no decor in the store, save for a few screens over the service counters. I don't mind it terribly, it looks clean and sleek in person. There's a lot going on in the small space anyway, so you don't necessarily need loads of visual clutter. Still, I'd like something, at least.

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The produce department is definitely the centerpiece of the store, along with the deli I suppose. It's also worth noting that the place was absolutely packed when I visited.

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You can see the efficient use of space in these produce bins with soda and other packaged grocery items below. There's an unusual setup as we reach the back of the store, with a row of wooden shelving or bins separating the grocery aisles from the service counters. I assume this is to keep traffic flowing through the aisles while people wait on line, but it's a bit of a strange setup.

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Still, the service counters look fantastic, and we can see here beautiful seafood, really nice meats, and an impressive deli.

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It was tough to get pictures with all the people!

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The deli takes up the entire back wall of the store. The meat and seafood counters are on the right-side wall.

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There's not a full grocery selection, but there definitely are the basics. I'm not sure, but I don't think this Top Tomato is a member of any cooperative. There were Best Yet (from C&S) products on the shelves, but I didn't see any clear indications of an affiliation with another group. Scotty's, Buddy's, and the Great Kills Top Tomato are all affiliated with Associated Supermarket Group.

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Packaged meats (which were a bit thin stock-wise, but I'll give them a pass because the store is new and packed with people), dairy, and a very small frozen foods department are on the left side wall of the store.

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I wonder how this store will do over time. If the grand opening weekend is any indication, it'll be quite successful. But people tend to check out a new store when it opens and then stop coming back if they don't like it. Top Tomato hasn't exactly been a resounding success in New Jersey so far -- in fact I'd say it's the opposite, in fact -- but Buddy's seems to do well enough, or it wouldn't have stayed open for the last four years. Drama of the various past locations aside, if they can run this store well, keep it clean and fully stocked with good quality products that people are looking for, I have no doubt it'll do fine.

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And people certainly seemed to be liking what they were seeing when I was visiting.

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Looking towards the back wall of the store...

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And a look at the front-end. You can see the small section of frozen foods cases at the far side of the store. Obviously, that's just not the focus here, and it makes sense the way they've set up the store.

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That's all for this Top Tomato! Will Top Tomato open more New Jersey stores? Will this one close like the others? Who knows, but you can bet I'll be there to find out. And don't forget today's other posts!

  • ShopRite - Livingston and Watchung, NJ
  • Sprouts Farmers Market - Aberdeen, NJ
  • SuperFresh - Old Bridge, NJ
  • Top Tomato - Old Bridge, NJ(this post)
  • Amazon Fresh - Eatontown, NJ
Special Report: Top Tomato Superstore - Old Bridge, NJ (2024)

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