Our Mission

To provide a fun, friendly, energetic, sensory food experience combined with exceptional quality and service.

When Elephants Delicatessen was founded, there were no specialty food stores in Portland – in fact, there were very few in the whole country. Elephants Delicatessen became a pioneer in gourmet innovations. We were the first to offer Portlanders fresh pasta, pesto sauce, chocolate truffles, cheeses from around the world, fresh-squeezed orange juice, homemade bread, and fresh, ready-to-go, delicious food at our deli counter. We also brought an attention to quality and service previously unknown.

Our Values

Elephants Cares

We pride ourselves on being a pioneer in sustainable practices. We're always looking for ways to lessen our negative impact on the environment and increase our positive impact in the community.


Exceptional hospitality and food quality.


We have each other’s backs, demonstrate mutual respect, and support our community.


Supporting our business as a force for good. Always considering the impact of decisions on employees, community, and environment.

Great Local Food since 1979

"The best thing about Elephants and the not-so-secret ingredient is the people. When I started the store in 1979, I had no idea that so many wonderful people would come to work here or that there would be so many terrific customers. Just think, 40 years of smart, funny people, and delicious food. Not bad, huh?"

- Elaine Tanzer
Elephants Delicatessen Louise and Anne in 1979
Elephants Delicatessen began on April 19, 1979. We took over a failing deli, knocked out a wall, and scrubbed around the clock for four days.
Elephants Delicatessen coffee and pastries
Portland was still small and distinctly un-cosmopolitan. Good cheese, wine, and coffee were not to be had. Elephants began to introduce them to Portland: fresh pasta, fresh-squeezed juice, sun-dried tomatoes, cheeses flown in directly from Europe, espresso drinks, olive paste, fresh pesto and really good, wholesome food to go.
Elephants Delicatessen staff in 1980
James Beard, a Portland-born cook, cookbook author, teacher and television personality, talking food with our Executive Chef and Co-Owner Scott Weaver.
Elephants Delicatessen soup being ladled from a pot into a to go container
Elephants Delicatessen serves its first bowl of Tomato Orange Soup, a perennial customer favorite.
Elephants Delicatessen Flying Elephants Fox Tower
Elephants sprouted wings and flew to the Fox Tower where we opened the first Flying Elephants, a smaller and quicker, but still beautiful, fun and tasty, version of the original store.
Elephants Delicatessen 2004 store opening with elf on stilts
Elephants moved to its own building and parking lot on NW 22nd off Burnside. We had a great parade from the old location to the new. Hundreds of customers with their kids and dogs, along with clowns, Chinese dragons, stilt walkers, local celebrities like Darcelle and Gerry Frank, all paraded behind a huge marching band, followed by a fire truck, followed by a huge elephant float. It was so much fun and it hasn't stopped since.
Elephants Delicatessen central kitchen sign
Elephants catering, lunch delivery and bakery were bursting out of our small kitchen. So a new location, the central kitchen, opened.
Elephants Delicatessen Kruse Way
A new Flying Elephants opened off Kruse way on Meadow in Lake Oswego.
Elephants Delicatessen Elephants on Wheels
Elephants on Wheels, a really cute (and delicious) food cart, opened on the Fifth Avenue Transit Mall side of Macy's in downtown Portland. Sadly, we had to close it in 2016 when the Macy’s building property, where it was located, was sold.
Elephants Delicatessen PXD airport
Flying Elephants flew all the way to PDX and finally made great carry-on (or eat-in) food available at the airport.
electric car
Elephants Delicatessen was the first business in Oregon to invest in an electric Nissan Leaf vehicle. It’s still running like a clean-energy-burning champ!
catering staff pouring wine
Elephants Delicatessen embarked on a new concept of full-service, high-end events. We officially renamed the catering division to Elephants Catering & Events. And there was much rejoicing!
Elephants Delicatessen Corbett storefront
We were excited to open our brand new location, Elephants on Corbett, in the Corbett-Terwilliger-Lair Hill neighborhood, along with the Corbett Room, a beautiful private event venue.
Elephants Delicatessen South Waterfront
We opened a new Flying Elephants location, with amazing views of Mt. Hood and the Tilikum Crossing, at the recently opened Collaborative Life Sciences Building.
Elephants Delicatessen
We opened our Central Offices in SE Portland, across the street from our Central Kitchen.
Elephants Delicatessen catering van
We’re going to need a bigger kitchen! We grew and renovated our central kitchen in SE Portland to make more food more efficiently – and to give our employees improved equipment and workspace amenities.
B Corps certification logo
Elephants Delicatessen earned its B Corp Certification, officially validating the vision and practices we’ve had since we started in 1979.
Elephants Delicatessen catering event at Montgomery Park
Another Flying Elephants touches down: this time in the historic Montgomery Park building.
Elephants Delicatessen took over management of the Leftbank Annex event venue!
We've opened our location in the World Trade Center building! This location has everything you love about our Flying Elephants, plus a full grill, and is blocks away from the waterfront.
exterior shot of Elephants Lake Oswego
Shaded patios, a full grill, and brand new gelato station! Our new location in Lake Oswego is open seven days a week. Come say hi!
Exterior shot of Elephants Milwaukie Kitchen
Our new production facility Milwaukie Kitchen opened, and will allow for our team to make delicious and fresh food more efficiently for more people.
Exterior photo of Elephants on Cedar Hills
We opened our Cedar Hills location which offers a full Elephants experience. Cheese and charcuterie, grilled classics, grab and go food, gelato, wine by the glass, beers on tap, and so much more!