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Elephants Delicatessen historic staff photo and celebration
About

Since 1979

Elephants Delicatessen has proudly served gourmet food and warm hospitality to the Portland community for nearly 40 years.

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 Mission

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

Our Core Values

Excellence,
Sustainability,
Unity

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

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 Louise and Anne in 1979

1980

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 coffee and pastries

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 staff in 1980

1984

Elephants Delicatessen serves its first bowl of Tomato Orange Soup, a perennial customer favorite.

Elephants Delicatessen soup being ladled from a pot into a to go container

2000

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 Flying Elephants Fox Tower

2004

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 2004 store opening with elf on stilts

2004

Elephants catering, lunch delivery and bakery were bursting out of our small kitchen. So a new location, the central kitchen, opened.

Elephants Delicatessen central kitchen sign

2005

A new Flying Elephants opened off Kruse way on Meadow in Lake Oswego.

Elephants Delicatessen Kruse Way

2009

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 Elephants on Wheels

2009

Flying Elephants flew all the way to PDX and finally made great carry-on (or eat-in) food available at the airport.

Elephants Delicatessen PXD airport

2011

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!

electric car

2011

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!

catering staff pouring wine

2013

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.

Elephants Delicatessen Corbett storefront

2014

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 South Waterfront

2014

We opened our Central Offices in SE Portland, across the street from our Central Kitchen.

Elephants Delicatessen

2015

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 catering van

2015

Elephants Delicatessen earned its B Corp Certification, officially validating the vision and practices we’ve had since we started in 1979.

B Corps certification logo

2017

Another Flying Elephants touches down: this time in the historic Montgomery Park building.

Elephants Delicatessen catering event at Montgomery Park
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