Power up with ba­nana cream pie at PUD

The PUDeli of­fers com­fort food and TLC in the util­ity dis­trict’s lobby

The Daily Herald - - GOOD LIFE -

When you think of PUD, you think of elec­tric bills and field trucks and live wires and chain saws, right? Well, think again. Think of chicken soup and ba­nana cream pie and meat­loaf sand­wiches and French toast. What’s up with that? Com­fort food and cof­fee is served at a deli in the lobby of Sno­homish County PUD head­quar­ters at 2320 Cal­i­for­nia St. in Ev­erett.

Like the power, it’s for pub­lic con­sump­tion.

“We prob­a­bly feed 150 peo­ple a day,” said Cassie Golden, who co-owns PUDeli with her hus­band, Den­nis. “I’ve had peo­ple tell us we’re Ev­erett’s best kept se­cret.”

Cassie started out as an em­ployee at the deli in 1999.

“I thought this would be fun, a lit­tle some­thing to do to get out of the house,” she said. Den­nis, a Navy re­tiree, was work­ing at Boe­ing and their two kids were grown.

A few months later, the deli came up for sale. The Marysville cou­ple bought it and the deli be­came their sec­ond home — and a place for them to show off their Uni­ver­sity of Ore­gon Ducks pride with ban­ners and swag. The Navy brought them to Wash­ing­ton from Ore­gon, but they stayed crazy Ducks fans.

Non-Ducks fans are wel­come and are given the same TLC.

“It says we’re open from 7 to 4,” Cassie said. “We get here by 6 in the morn­ing, so if you come in at 6:05 and need cof­fee I’m go­ing to get you some.”

They’ve ex­panded from their orig­i­nal menu of mainly soup and sand­wiches. Now they also have lat­tes and Red Bull, wraps and pro­tein bars.

Drip cof­fee is 75 cents. Chicken WHAT’S UP WITH THAT?

and dumpling soup is $2.25 a cup.

In the past 17 years, they’ve taken two va­ca­tions, both times to Alaska. They have five em­ploy­ees and two are cur­rently on ma­ter­nity leave.

Den­nis, 66, does the shop­ping, chop­ping and makes a mean tuna salad. Cassie, 55, does the cooking, serv­ing and talk­ing.

And yes, they pay for util­i­ties, just like every­body else.

“We do sim­ple home-cooking,” Cassie said. “A lot of these folks are work­ing dur­ing storms, out in the el­e­ments and we try to of­fer them some­thing that’s go­ing to warm them up on those cold nasty days. That’s what we do.”

Of­fice work­ers are their main­stay, and they know many by name.

“We know when they are hav­ing ba­bies and grand­ba­bies,” Cassie said. “I used to have to lean over the counter to see the lit­tle ones and now they’re show­ing me their col­lege diplo­mas, which is such a cool thing.”

Some have been be­hind the counter.

“A num­ber of them used to work for us here while they were go­ing to school and now work for the PUD,” Den­nis said.

PUD engi­neer James Rob­bins comes for more than his fa­vorite tuna and soup combo. “They hold con­ver­sa­tions,” he said. “They have a great heart.”

He re­cently scored a free piece of leftover cream pie.

Daily spe­cials are posted on a board. Thurs­day is spe­cial dessert day. The cou­ple also sell do­nated pas­tries to raise money for Re­lay for Life, a pas­sion be­cause of a fam­ily his­tory of can­cer.

Diners don’t have to bring money ev­ery time.

“Folks can do a pre­pay, give us a lit­tle money and we run a tab for them,” Cassie said. “The IT de­part­ment says, ‘We can help you get that put on a com­puter.’ ” No thanks. “We write it down the old-fash­ioned way,” she said.

“We have a three-ring binder,” Den­nis added.

Ev­erett re­tirees Bob and Peggy Van­der­way have been reg­u­lars since dis­cov­er­ing PUDeli a dozen years ago on a stop to pay their bill.

“It’s away from the busy restau­rants where they’re sling­ing hash,” Peggy said. “It’s af­ford­able and they treat us well. We don’t al­ways find that. When you’re an older per­son and you go places, peo­ple can be rude.”

“Or they sit us back in the cor­ner,” Bob added.

At PUDeli, it’s sit where you want or can.

Peak de­mand ap­plies here. The eight ta­bles with four chairs fill up around noon or when events are go­ing on in the PUD au­di­to­rium.

I had lunch at PUDeli with Her­ald so­cial media guru Ben Watan­abe.

He called it an “elec­tric din­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.”

“Walk­ing in it had a cor­po­rate cafe­te­ria vibe, but the folks be­hind the counter and reg­is­ter quickly blew that away with a friendly greet­ing,” he said. “The daily spe­cial sign posted a few feet from the counter helped dis­pel that im­age, too, with the siren’s song of a chicken Wal­dorf in a pita, or as the Sno­homish County PUD Twitter ac­count later claimed it, #Chick­enPi­taDay.”

I can’t take Ben any­where without him find­ing a hash­tag.

“There are plenty of places to grab a sand­wich,” he said. “But there’s a unique feel­ing that any­thing could hap­pen when you’re hob­nob­bing with the team that makes sure the lights turn on and the dams keep churn­ing.”

Andrea Brown: 425-339-3443; abrown@her­ald­net.com. Twitter: @re­porter­brown.

PHO­TOS BY IAN TERRY / THE HER­ALD

Cassie Golden (cen­ter) helps cus­tomer Brenda White at the PUDeli in Ev­erett. “They take such good care of us,” said White, who works at the PUD and has made the PUDeli a reg­u­lar lunch stop for the past eight years.

Den­nis Golden co-owns the PUDeli with his wife, Cassie. The cou­ple bought the Ev­erett cafe in 1999.

A roast beef sand­wich from the PUDeli in Ev­erett.

ANDREA BROWN

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