We have been pandemicing for a while now. In another month or so many of us will have achieved the not-so-glorious hallmark of preparing 365 dinners in a row at home. Lunches at home. Breakfasts at home. It’s exhausting, right? Thankfully, Thurston County is an impressive community full of resourceful people, and local businesses have stepped up when it comes to innovating ready-to-eat foods. For now, we are a culture of take-out diners who, fortunately, have a multitude of options available. One option you may have been overlooking are the delis at local grocery retailer Bayview and Ralph’s Thriftways. If you’re looking for hot food or fresh, pre-made sides and salads, look no further.

Thriftway Deli
Thriftway Deli Team member Kiki Jones stands ready to serve some hot Ivar’s Clam Chowder. Photo courtesy: Stormans Inc.

Since 1944 the Stormans family has been responding to the calls of our community. With a commitment to local, they have been offering fresh foods and dry goods, housewares, a pharmacy, a bakery and of course, a deli.

When Ralph’s Thriftway was built in 1956, The Daily Olympian called it “a mammoth food emporium” as it was quite large for a supermarket at that time. It boasted many amenities, a favorable one being a rotisserie cooking ribs and chicken. Even then, busy households saw the value of being able to carry home a sizzling hot roast chicken to set the table with minimal effort. Both delis, at Bayview in downtown Olympia, and Ralph’s at the top of the Fourth Avenue hill to the east, still offer whole roasted chickens from their delis and a whole lot more that shoppers from yesteryear wouldn’t even believe.

Full-Service Grocers

Both Ralph’s and Bayview Thriftways are complete, full-service grocers. They offer up fresh meats and produce, delectable baked goods and deli departments that host a wide array of hot and cold ready-to-eat foods. In each store, you can do a lap around and gather things to-go from all food groups and meal types, an easy way to feed yourself and your family, for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

The Deli at Ralph’s

Thriftway Deli
Both Bayview and Ralph’s deli departments now carry the Bourbon Brothers line of heat and eat entrees and sides. Photo courtesy: Stormans Inc.

“We’re driven by our customers,” shares Rhonda Nickle, Ralph’s Thriftway deli department manager. “We’re not dictated from a large corporation on what we carry, and I like that about the stores.”

The deli at Ralph’s has a hot case with comfort foods we’ve come to know and love like jo-jo’s hot chicken that comes in both baked and fried, macaroni and cheese and more. But there’s also a made-to-order burrito bar where deli team members can build a burrito or taco salad to your exact specifications with different options including rice, beans, proteins and the all-important things, like pico de gallo.

“We’ve increased our grab-n-go area,” Rhonda reports, detailing how the deli has spread out on pre-packaged items since they’ve removed their self-serve salad, olive, and soup bars in the utmost concern for safety during this time. “We’ve adapted,” she says confidently.

There are also many ready-to-eat components where you can build a homestyle meal ala carte. Grilled chicken breast and salmon are some of the rotating cast of proteins that are available daily to heat and eat. Round out your meal by grabbing a side dish or green salad and you’re on your way to a quick and easy meal.

If a sandwich is more your style, there’s an actual Subway inside of Ralph’s where you can satisfy your hankering for a quick deli sub. Ask at the deli counter for a hot bowl of Ivar’s soup, and you’ve got an affordable meal on the go. Don’t forget to snag a single-serve mochi or a pint of local, regionally famous Olympic Mountain Ice Cream for dessert.

 Ralph’s also has a sushi bar where sushi is made fresh every day and is available to grab and go. The same fresh sushi is also shuttled down the hill to Bayview making this healthy option available fresh every day at both stores

The Deli at Bayview

Thriftway Deli
High-quality Boars Head meats and cheeses can be found in both Thriftway deli departments. Photo courtesy: Stormans Inc.

 It’s not a secret that Bayview Thriftway has always been a little extra. It’s waterfront location and sweeping vista make it an obvious choice for supplying an outdoor picnic. Their deli department has anything you could need for a ready-made meal: from a deep-dish quiche breakfast to an afternoon picnic, or a dinner in. With Bayview Catering and Bayview School of Cooking located on-site, it has a workhorse of a kitchen, unlike the deli at Ralph’s, which has a smaller kitchen footprint. This amplifies Bayview’s in-house cooking capabilities, and would you believe they even have a smoker?

Bayview deli hosts all of the same comfort foods as Ralph’s in their hot case, but with a full kitchen, they have many more entrees to choose from.

“We make a lot of our entrees,” says Kelly Young, Bayview deli manager and Stormans employee for nearly 30 years. “Deep dish quiche, meatloaf, enchiladas, crusted cod, and many of our own salads.  Bayview’s signature red potato salad is not to miss!

From the grill, there are hamburgers, gyros and elevated grilled cheese. From the smoker comes fresh smoked salmon and pulled pork.

Like Ralph’s, Bayview also hosts a build-your-own burrito bar and offers many pre-made, fresh green salads.

Just like Ralph’s, “We carry Boar’s Head meats and cheeses,” Kelly says, “but we also have an imported cheese case with many high-end cheeses available.”

Thriftway Deli
The Thriftway mascot, Peare, the pear, waits for a burrito from the burrito bar at Ralph’s. Photo courtesy: Stormans Inc.

From the service deli case, you could treat yourself to several different house-made salads like imitation crab, chipotle chicken, or a broccoli crunch. “Our broccoli crunch salad is dairy-free,” Kelly reports.

Instead of Subway, Bayview deli makes their own sandwich on the panini grill. Kelly says the Cuban is quite popular, and her personal favorite is the Caprese. She also points out that there is gluten-free bread available.

Bayview is also scooping Olympic Mountain Ice Cream and has one of the widest varieties around with 8 ice cream flavors available and 11 gelatos.

Both Ralph’s and Bayview are conveniently located for a quick stop in to grab an easy, yet delicious dinner, (or any meal), solution. The take ‘n’ bake options at Bayview are numerous, from soups to chicken street taco kits, and classic entrees to side dishes in two sizes. Both stores are carrying a new line of ready-made to go meals by Bourbon Brothers with dishes like goulash, chicken teriyaki, pesto chicken, alfredo chicken and more, you’ll have to give these new easy meal solutions a go.

“As the industry changes,” Kelly says, everyone is doing more ready-to-go, and we will continue to get different options and more variety.”

Bayview Thriftway
516 4th Avenue W, Olympia

Ralph’s Thriftway
1908 E 4th Avenue, Olympia

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