What do Lucy Brennan, giant pachyderms and a retractable roof have in common? No, Major League Baseball isn’t coming to Portland. Rather, an uptown fixture with satellite shops around town is establishing a new, expanded flagship location in the space formerly occupied by Il Fornaio.

“We’re trying to create a dining atmosphere that’s elegant, but at the same time casual,” says Elaine Tanzer, owner of Elephants Deli. “We have a whole new antipasto spread that people can order the way they order our salads to go home, but they can also get a nice dinner or lunch.”

Keeping intact a large round space at the front of the new location to entice patrons to dine in-house, Elephants is spreading its familiar take-out shop throughout the large back of the room. A wood-burning stove left by the prior occupants bakes up fresh pizzas, and a private room in the back (with that retractable roof) allows ample space for garden parties in any season.

Elephants’ most refined addition, however, is a simple bar with a cocktail menu designed by Portland’s most inventive mixologist, Lucy Brennan of Mint and 820 fame. “The new space has a very European bistro café feel,” says Brennan. “It’s totally new to Portland, so I wanted to incorporate that into the drinks.” Brennan’s drink list purées a wide range of tastes while keeping things uncomplicated.

Packing everything up into its trunk for a move down the road may be just the thing an elephant needs to reinvent itself. With shopping, dining and drinking, the new Elephants Deli is a veritable three-ring circus. But don’t fret that you might lose your old favorites. Elephants hasn’t forgotten what got them here.

This article appeared in the April 2005 issue of Portland Monthly Magazine.