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LET’S EAT: Pickles Deli: Super sandwich shop

Aug 1st, 2012 | Category: Food

by Samantha Schuller

Sandwich lovers of the world: get thee to Whidbey Island for the sandwich you seek.


In Clinton, at the south end of the island, Pickles Deli serves sandwiches, wraps, soups, and salads with what owner Kim Bailey lovingly refers to as a “nourishing” philosophy. The menu is built around local ingredients and changes seasonally, with Cascade Glacier ice cream in the summer and a broth bar in the winter. These days, you’ll find yourself sitting down to summer tomatoes grilled in a mozzarella and arugula panini, a spinach and roasted red pepper stuffed chicken pie, or a roasted beet and gorgonzola cheese salad.

Bailey came to Whidbey Island 13 years ago and found success in event catering. She had been commuting to Everett, and though she was successful there, she eventually decided she wanted to stay put on the island, feeding her own community. “I just asked myself, why can’t we use what we have, what we can grow here in this climate?” She knew the demand must be there. “I said to myself, Come on! I can’t be the only one who wants healthy food!” she laughed.

Bailey’s leap of faith paid off. The support of an island community, coupled with a growing interest in the benefits of eating seasonal food have helped Pickles grow a devoted clientele. “I really focus my business towards the people who live here,” she said. “Tourists are just an extra bonus. I moved here to be a part of something.”

Local ingredients growing. COURTESY PHOTO

Every two weeks, Bailey develops a new Fresh Sheet for the deli, which in addition to the more permanent menu fixtures, offers fresh entrees inspired by what’s in season and available from Whidbey and area farmers, cheesemakers, and bakeries. It used to change weekly, but “people were coming in, saying they wanted the same delicious sandwich they had last week,” she laughed. “So now we let it run for two weeks to give people the chance to enjoy it.”

Despite her busy schedule, Bailey makes sure that she and her employees take regular trips to the farms they purchase from; other farms make regular deliveries. They use products from farms including FeatherStone Farm, Willowood Farm and Bluebird Grain Farm.

She said a few years back, a lot of local farms were disappearing, and once people realized what was happening, they started understanding how much local agriculture matters. “People want to feel that connection to their food and their farmer. When they drive past fields on their way to work, they are glad to know that their lunch here is supporting those farms.”

Finding local food was harder when the deli first opened than it is now, Bailey said. “When I first started, I wanted to use all local ingredients, and for some things I just couldn’t find it. There was no one raising pigs, or making cheese, and now they are. I envision being able to incorporate even more of those things in the future.” High on her wish list: local deli meats with no fillers or additives.

While it is sometimes more expensive and often takes more effort to purchase, Bailey says sticking to her pool of local suppliers isn’t a burden, but contributes to her satisfaction as a business owner. “Yes, it takes more time if you make these conscious decisions, but at the end of the day, you can feel better about building something matches your convictions.”

Bailey strives to fill her menu with flavorful, colorful food that she and her skilled staff make from scratch. “The food tastes better when everyone loves what they’re doing,” she said. “It’s such a great feeling when you hear someone say, ‘That was the best sandwich I’ve ever eaten!’ Knowing people by name, being a part of the community, and seeing people leave the restaurant happy and nourished—that renews my motivation every day.”

Pickles Deli is located at 11042 SR 525, Suite 122 in Clinton and open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Saturday. See their menu online at

This article was published in the August 2012 issue of Grow Northwest magazine.

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