Celebrating 61 Years of Wyckoff’s Family-Friendly Gourmet Food Haven

In 1960, with a humble dream and an entrepreneurial spirit, 21-year-old Anthony Chernalis opened the doors to The Market Basket {813 Franklin Lake Road, 201.891.2000; marketbasket.com}. The modest butcher shop and deli began on Sicomac Avenue in Wyckoff. Sixty-one years running, The Market Basket has easily become one of the most celebrated gourmet food havens of Bergen County.

“His father was a butcher by trade. My father learned to be a butcher during his high school days at Ramapo High School,” said son and manager, Mark Chernalis. “He went to Fairleigh Dickinson University and was going to be an accountant, but when the Wyckoff location became available as part of a little strip mall, he took it over.”

As Tony’s business instinct sharpened, he sensed the need for another culinary need: catering. He followed his hunch and expanded his grocery to include a catering service. The idea took off. In the beginning, Market Basket catering produced homemade quality foods like sandwiches and hot hor d’oeuvres, and customers wanted more. Grandson and operating officer Zach Chernalis explained how the growing demand for catering pushed his grandfather to expand.

“He outgrew his kitchen and store. When the space in Franklin Lakes became available he took the store over and expanded it twice since opening.”


This year, the Market Basket is celebrating its 61st anniversary thanks to a hardworking family legacy, one of the best recognized catering services in the region and some of the highest quality foods in Bergen County. The gourmet market offers a robust selection of prepared foods including fresh produce, incomparable meats and seafood and the most delectable baked goods. The Chernalis family stresses the importance of the highest quality foods for its customers.

“We have a 55,000 square foot warehouse and commissary,” Zach said. “This is where we smoke our own meats, we make our own chocolate production, bake our own pastries. This sets us apart for buyers and we take pride in making our products from scratch.”

Market Basket employs over 30 formally trained chefs from the Culinary Institute of America and the French Culinary Institute.

“They are always helping us innovate and ensure the quality is as high as possible. Our staff who are trained in-house,” Zach said. “Many shops don’t go through the extra measures.”

Four to five times a week, Market Basket sends its fleet of 18 wheelers to Hunts Point at 2am to source the freshest products available. The seafood is hand-selected by their own specialty buyer. Other staples like meat selections of pork and veal are of highest quality and poultry is corn-fed and raised in Pennsylvania Dutch country as well as all natural turkey. USDA Prime Beef is chosen from livestock in the Midwest. Customers can feast their eyes and inhale the sweet smells of scratch-made breads, pastries and homemade donuts. All warm to the touch from the store’s state of the art ovens imported from Germany, baked fresh throughout the day.

“We are always looking to what customers want and other trends and innovations to move towards.”

To emphasize this initiative, the Market Basket team offers its own in-house nutritionist.

“We have dishes marked with a ‘clean eating’ logo,” said Zach. “The nutritionist has certified that dish and helped create those dishes whether its gluten free, low calorie, keto or low fat, lean dishes.”

Chefs who are cooking live are found upon entering Market Basket’s Gourmet to Go section front and center of the market.

“This section really sets the tone when you walk in the store,” Zach said, “It has both cold and hot pre-packed items made fresh from the kitchen in the back of the store.”

market basket

Formally trained chefs ensure the Gourmet to Go section offers healthy options for various dietary needs. There are hot foods like salmon, chicken and pastas as well as cold displays with quinoa salads and an array of side dishes for those who are constantly on the move.


These days catering is still a big business for Market Basket. Recognized by New Jersey publications as “Most Raved About Caterer” and as a “Best Catering Service in New Jersey,” Market Basket can provide a complete party planning agenda for events of any size or style, providing services for events of thousands to a basic family gathering in your own home. Their catering staff is all trained in-house.

Some of their signature dishes include gourmet sandwiches and wraps, and for higher-end events Market Basket offers luxurious ingredients like white truffles and caviar.

Theme menus are also available like the Big Game Menu serving favorites like wings, signature sandwiches and “touch down” desserts; Valentine’s Menu featuring individual beef wellingtons and lobster tail, Cocktail Party menus, Irish Buffet, Tea Time Buffet, South of the Border BBQ and many more, as well as customized menus of your choice.

Market Basket continues to serve customers the freshest food and treats in the region. Tony Chernalis has entrusted the reigns of his business to his son and grandson, for a business that has grown from a mere six employees to over 400. Tony Chernalis is highly involved in philanthropic activities, including the charity, Oasis, a non-profit that provides food to women and children in need.

“Market Basket is his baby,” said Mark, “He innovated prepared food before anybody realized in the market what anything ever was. He’s proud of his business and how it expanded. He’s a great entrepreneur and always wanted to give back. This is what he’s most proud of now: helping people.”