Thursday, August 27, 2009

Deli Offers Speed and Friendly Service to the Neighborhood

Stand outside the Wicker Basket in the Mendham Village Shopping Center on Route 24, and the place just screams deli. From the glowing Boar’s Head sign on the window, to the customers who walk in empty handed, only to walk out minutes later with a giant sub or a salad in their hands, everything about the Wicker Basket tells you in very distinct words that this is a deli, and we are here to serve you.

“We just try to give the people quite a bit of what we can,” says Glenn Schmidle, owner of the Wicker Basket along with his wife, Mary Ellen, “Good service, good stuff, and hopefully, they’ll keep coming back.”
Inside the Wicker Basket is a very inviting atmosphere that has enough floor space to allow big lines to form and not feel crowded or closed in. This is intentional as the lines at the Wicket Basket can get quite long sometimes.

“The line may look long, but we blast them out,” Schmidle says, “Our motto is, the Wicker is quicker.”

Part of the reason for this is because many of the same customers come in everyday ordering the same meals, allowing Schmidle to already know what to have ready for them in advance.

“There are people here all the time, the same people every day,” Schmidle says, “And I can have [their food] ready for them. I think that’s what people like. Before they get to the counter, we have it all done and ready for them. They’ll get their sandwich or their Taylor Ham or their coffee, [and it will be] just sitting on the counter when they come in.”

Other than the ample floor space, there’s the deli counter that has various meats and salads—from Asian Chicken and pasta to Chicken Caesar—behind it. There are also a variety of chips available for quick and easy pick up on the shelves. The menu features sandwiches of all kinds, including breakfast sandwiches like the Taylor Ham Egg and Cheese, cold sandwiches like the Sloppy Joe with Turkey or roast beef, and hot sandwiches, like the Pizza Sandwich. Added items on the menu include more salads for the more health conscious customers, and more burgers, “with like, millions of things on it,” Schmidle says.

Along the walls are soda freezers on one side, and unopened sodas in boxes on the other, sitting atop steel wire shelves and waiting to fill the freezers. But those drinks aren’t the ones that most people who are familiar with the Wicker Basket come to get.
“We have the Half&Half.” Schmidle says, “Half iced tea, half lemonade. Kids line up in the morning to get them before they go to school.”
For those who haven’t been to the Wicker Basket in awhile though, they may notice some very immediate changes.

“We fixed it up like seven months ago,” Schmidle says, “President’s Weekend. We closed for a week and did it.”
These changes—brighter lights, a sign with a cartoon man with big eyes smiling at a sandwich, more modern look—are all part of Schmidle’s way of giving back to the community.

“We just try to keep up with the times,” Schmidle says, “I just wanted to put something back. Instead of just taking from the business, I wanted to put something back [into it]. Now, when somebody comes in, they’re like, ‘It’s new.’”
These new things don’t alter the history of the place though, which goes back quite some time.

“This was the first store in this mall,” Schmidle says, “and it’s been like, 45 years, and the store had been the same and never changed.”
Glenn Schmidle’s parents bought the store 21 years ago from its original owners, who had already changed it from being a cheese store to a deli before they got there. Glenn took over the shop when his parents retired and has been running it with his wife ever since.

“Being here for that long, it seems weird,” Schmidle says, “Kids who came here in strollers are driving now. They’re going off to college. We saw them as little kids and [I think] that’s pretty cool.”


The Wicker Basket
WHERE: 86 E. Main St. Suite B (Kings Supermarket shopping center), Mendham
TELEPHONE NUMBER: 973-543-7279
HOURS: 6:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday. Closed on Sundays
CUISINE: Fresh deli, salad, grill items, breakfast sandwiches and bagels
PAYMENT: Cash only
PRICE RANGE: Breakfast, $1.75 to $7.50; salads, $3.95 to $7.50; sandwich and wraps, $4.95
ATMOSPHERE: A great little hometown deli
PARKING: Large lot
OWNERS: Glenn and Mary Ellen Schmidle

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