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.
To provide a fun, friendly, energetic, sensory food experience combined with exceptional quality and service.
Our Core Values
GREAT LOCAL FOODS 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, nearly 40 years of smart, funny people, and delicious food. Not bad, huh?" - Elaine Tanzer
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.
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.
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 serves its first bowl of Tomato Orange Soup, a perennial customer favorite.
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 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 catering, lunch delivery and bakery were bursting out of our small kitchen. So a new location, the central kitchen, opened.
A new Flying Elephants opened off Kruse way on Meadow in Lake Oswego.
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.
Flying Elephants flew all the way to PDX and finally made great carry-on (or eat-in) food available at the airport.
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!
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!
We opened our newest location, Elephants on Corbett, in the Corbett-Terwilliger-Lair Hill neighborhood, along with the Corbett Room, a beautiful private event venue.
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.
We opened our Central Offices in SE Portland, across the street from our Central Kitchen.
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.
Elephants Delicatessen earned its B Corp Certification, officially validating the vision and practices we’ve had since we started in 1979.
Another Flying Elephants touches down: this time in the historic Montgomery Park building.