Integrity. Innovation. Impact.

Joe and Margaret Palmer

Joe and Margaret Palmer

Owners of Palmer's Deli


BBA 1985 (Joe in Marketing, Margaret in Finance)


Palmer's Deli in Des Moines

Joe Palmer’s easy smile and continence belies his professional drive in the food industry.

"I'm never content," he says. "I've always had a passion for business, and every day I'm excited to come into work."

Palmer's Deli in Des Moines, Iowa, is a result of his passion, and it has been lauded with numerous "best of" awards by the Des Moines Register and the Des Moines Business Record, including Best Caterer, Best Brown Bag Lunch, and Best Lunch Spot.

Before Joe attended The University of Iowa, he helped his parents at their ice cream shop during the summers. Palmer says he and his parents talk daily and still laugh about their humble beginnings.

"We boiled our first chicken for chicken salad and we got about a pint. Today we make thousands of pounds."

Joe (BBA85) graduated from the University with his high school sweetheart and now wife, Margaret (BBA85). Margaret also earned her degree in finance at Iowa and encouraged Joe to take the leap into business.

"Her being a business major helped us decide to begin this journey," Joe says, "and I wanted to test my skills as a business owner."

The Palmers launched their first deli endeavor in West Des Moines in 1995. They had to close the first week of business because they blew out their transformers due to the high demand. Today, Joe owns five locations in central Iowa that span 31,000 square feet and employ more than 150 people.

"We're not always perfect," Joe says. "That's the challenge. That's where the business acumen comes in."

The Palmer family includes three children. His daughter, Claire, is currently a student at Iowa.

"Truly memorable food is made not only with great ingredients but with passion," Joe says. "At the end of the day, people do taste that difference. Palmer's will stay true to its roots and its tagline: Great Food…Great Life."