Welcome back, dear reader. August has been an exciting month for us here at Northern Waters Smokehaus. We have added fresh faces to our team, said goodbye (see you later? During mail order season? Please, help) to some old friends, sold a whole bunch of tote bags, and generally embraced the end-of-Summer fatigue as a way of life. Here’s some insights into what’s on our minds this week:
- Option 1 has commenced!
For the month of September, Bunchanan St. will be closed to vehicle traffic and used as a public seating area. This is part of Imagine Duluth 2035‘s Imagine Canal Park initiative. This initiative also includes a pop-up park at the Lighthouse Lot at the end of Canal Park Drive, and has been implemented to reinvest in Canal Park and it’s ability to host “uniquely crafted community-oriented spaces.” For more information, check out the press release.
- Nighttime delivery is coming to a temporary end.
The season is coming to a close: Days are getting shorter, the lunch rush is getting (marginally) slower, and the students—most of our delivery team—are heading back to school. As a result, we’ll be cutting our delivery hours back to 10am-5pm, with a cutoff for new orders at 4:30pm daily. We look forward to seeing you down in our deli during the Autumn evenings, and our evening delivery drivers will see you again next Summer.
- We signed up for Best of the Wurst!
We’re pleased to be taking part in this year’s Best of the Wurst at Sociable Ciderworks. The event promises “all the sausage you can eat” and benefits non-profit Fair Vote MN. We’ll be serving up some NWS charcuterie classics, as well as some new, exciting recipes currently in development. Tickets are available here.
- We announced our 20th Anniversary party and afterparty.
This just in: NWS’s 20th anniversary celebration will be taking place on September 29th at Hoops Brewing. The afterparty, featuring a roster of NWS employee bands, will happen at the Rex Bar in Fitger’s. Our community has done so much for our business, and we are very excited to give back with what should be a very memorable day of proper NWS revelry. We’ll be closing our deli early that day so everyone can get in on the fun. More information can be found on the Facebook event page.
- NWS got their first standing desk.
This one speaks for itself. A signature NWS innovation.
Thanks for tuning in, friends. See you next week.
It’s been a spicy week at NWS—so spicy, in fact, that I need to immediately soothe it with some cool and smooth Smokehaus anecdotes.
- We had the best time at the Glensheen Gala! Although prep for the event began early in the week leading up to it, there was still plenty left for the day of the event. Beginning around noon, a small group of the catering team went to Glensheen to set up a beautiful array of tables, decorations, and serveware—shoutout Sue from Hemlock Preserve for bringing her A-game with props and decorations—while the rest of us set ourselves to finishing all the food preparation. I personally spackled about five-hundred squares of pumpernickel with scallion cream cheese for gravlax smørbrød, and shared the tremendous duty of piping boursin into the same number of endives, which we then garnished with sweet peppers. During this process we feasted like royalty on the dismembered crusts of watercress and butter sandwiches. Big bonus for me: This week I encountered endives and watercress for the first time, and I am not sure how I lived so long in the dark.
Once we arrived with the food and catering gear, we operated at full-speed to set everything up and basically never slowed down the rest of the night. Hundreds of guests poured through our little alcoves loaded with thoughtful questions and kind praise, as we worked like bees, pollinating plates with aromatic cheeses, jams, and fruits; replenishing trays of stilton-pancetta puffs and lamb hand pies; creating delicious desserts in real-time to keep the people well-fed.
At the end of the night, we were fortunate enough to have some time for individual wandering about the grounds, and got to take in the full spectacle of the Secret Garden Party. Lit paths guiding us along creeks, to courtyard fountains, and gorgeous Lake Superior in the moonlight. It was a full day, and a lovely night of work that at times felt like play.
- Our design team did a photoshoot at Hemlock Preserve! In addition to a number of future print projects to showcase our product and our business, we are steadily piecing together a product catalog for release in early Autumn. Sue, a wonderful friend and collaborator of our business, and proprietor of the amazing Hemlock Preserve barn-palace-wonderland gave us the perfect location for an epic photoshoot. Thanks, Sue!
- The youths have left us to return to their schooling! Some things that happen at NWS are not so savory, and perhaps a tad bittersweet. During the summertime, we take on a swath of young folk to fill in the gaps in our staff. Then the Summer days dwindle and they return to their sedentary lives of learning and self-improvement, while our prep and delivery department doubles down to keep on top of the orders that continue to come in. Perhaps somewhere in here is a desperate plea—if you’re a highly motivated team-player who would like a hand in the back-end of bringing our particular variety of food joy; if you find your daily zen in washing dishes; or if you would enjoy spending time driving, walking, or biking our food around town and otherwise hanging around our fun and talented staff, consider dropping off a résumé or filling out an application.
- Blush celebrated their 1st birthday! Prep legend Amy Hazel may spend a lot of time working the grind in our basement, but she and her friends/colleagues also own a wonderful bar/art gallery/music venue called Blush, located downtown on 1st Avenue West. To celebrate their anniversary, they have thrown a weeklong music festival (aptly named Blushfest) which has featured the talents of several NWS staffers and alumni bands, including Moon Dogs, àlamode, RAW SPACE, and Low Forms. The festival continues through Saturday night. Here’s to another year of Blush!
- Mayu the corgi visited our office! Designer extraordinaire Zac shared his dog-friend with us for the day. What a squeezable little pup-nugget. Zac should definitely bring her back, or there will be consequences.
That’s all for this week. Thanks for tuning in!
First off: sorry, reader. Last week a little too much life and a little too much Blues Fest hit yours truly and I wasn’t able to churn out five things that happened. Additionally, a lot of the excitement around the Smokehaus has been ongoing and pinning down five things that weren’t just a continuation of a previous post or a too-early preview of something upcoming was a tall order. “Excuses, excuses,” you are surely thinking, and you wouldn’t be far from the truth. So, without further ado, here’s some exciting news for y’all.
- We have a new mail order director! And gosh is she great. Olivia’s first shift was this previous Monday, down in ye olde sandwich shoppe, just to put her through the wringer and familiarize her with our product and customers right off the bat. She comes to us from a management position at Va Bene, and also spent some time working for Northern Waters Restaurant. The mail order director is a big position to fill and she has had a strong start thus far—infectiously enthusiastic and highly credentialed, you’ll certainly be hearing more about her soon (perhaps a profile blog, perhaps written by me). We’re glad to have Olivia on the team.
- We have a new floor! Our third-floor office renovation is complete. I have been filling space writing about the new floors, wall, and sink, and I am ready to quit doing that, but expanding our food-prep capabilities is huge for us. For those of you who remember our deli being half the size it currently is—I will never forget bumping shoulders and stepping on toes every thirty seconds for a seven-hour shift—that is kind of how balancing our standard food production, daily prep, mail order packaging, and catering prep has felt. The lack of carpet should also improve our spontaneous company broom ball games.
- Blues Festival happened! Those of us who work the grind in our deli and on the sandwich line frequently field the question, “is it always this busy?” Yes and no. Here at NWS, we don’t really have off-days or off-seasons—maybe halfway through October through halfway through November, then again in February and March, but that hardly constitutes a season—but some Summer weekends are just crazy. Blues Festival happened to fall on a very beautiful Duluth weekend, and Canal Park was popping from Thursday night all the way through Sunday (and a few hundred hangers-around on Monday who kept us on our toes). Fortunately, Blues Fest attendees are quite the amiable crowd, and these dog days went by mostly without a hitch. Thanks for your enduring patience with us.
- We have added more haus-made bread to our menu! This one caught me by surprise. While slinging sandwiches on the line, I noticed our white bread was no longer pre-sliced, so I checked in with our diligent baker, Jerry. As it turns out, we are now fully-stocked with his fantastic white bread, and he is baking more every Wednesday. It’s available as a substitution for any sandwich, but is perfectly suited for the Motherlover (our “kids” sandwich) or a grilled cheese—which we have long improvised, but have now officially added to our menu.
- We finalized the line-up for our 20th Anniversary Party Afterparty! And all of the bands are NWS-affiliated. For those of you who weren’t aware, there is a lot of talent outside of the culinary arts among our staff. We have visual artists, writers, and musicians among us, and it’s definitely a point of pride for the company. More details about the party and the afterparty are forthcoming, and we’re pleased to have a Smokehaus star-studded lineup in place. Both events will be free and open to the public. Stay tuned for an official announcement in the next couple of weeks.
There you have it. Plenty more things have been going on around NWS this week, but I’ll leave you with that. Oh, and since I missed last week, here’s a bonus thing that happened:
Bonus thing 1. Dino Force Five narrowly escapes the Yakfolk Village at Ironslag! At the weekly meeting of our unofficial company D&D campaign, our adventurers had taken on a reconnaissance mission for the dwarves at Citadel Fellbar. In exchange for a lot of gold pieces for successful gathering of information about the return of fire giants to the forge at Ironslag, and a tower built for us if we returned with the head of a fire giant, we headed toward the mountain. In our typically unsubtle fashion, we landed our airship near a thatched village near the summit, and were quickly greeted by several yakfolk who insisted we meet their leader. Long story short, we fell for a trap of hospitality and were nearly drugged into a comatose state. One among us succeeded a constitution saving throw, and quickly consumed a potion of detect thoughts to discover the true intentions of the yakfolk leader. A heated battle ensued which temporarily banished our archer to the astral plane and nearly killed us all, but through clever strategy, very good dice rolls, and again polymorphing our halfling rogue into a Tyrannosaurus Rex, we were able to overcome our foes and escape on our airship. Next week we will collect our gold pieces, and perhaps return more surreptitiously to face the fire giants. (Photo included not from most recent session.)
As Summer pushes onward toward its inevitable end, Northern Waters Smokehaus finds itself embroiled in growing pains and the joy of new beginnings. A lot has been happening around here in the past week—continuations of capital improvements, commencements of new bargains, and the laying of plans for special occasions.
Before my preamble becomes too amble-y, let’s get to our five things:
- We have a sink upstairs! This may not sound as exciting as I have made it out to be, but it’s a significant step in the renovation of our third-floor office. For some time we have wanted to expand our food prep capabilities, and that dream is well on its way to being a reality. Next week we’re tearing out the carpet, and then it’s Food Safe City in this joint! Aside from the chaos of remodeling a jam-packed office—who can’t enjoy a little chaos from time to time?—the only drawback is that we’re taking a brief pause on mail orders. Mail order will be on hiatus August 6th-9th due to temporary lack of space.
- Totes! We have new tote bags for sale and a special deal running throughout the month of August. It totes slipped our minds to let you know earlier, but here it is:
When you buy a tote, at time of purchase you get 20% off every item you can fit in that tote. Sandwiches, smoked fish, cheese, tube meats, posters, crackers, beverages, olives, slaws—I could go on,but I believe you get the gist—are all 20% off, so long as you can fit them in your tote bag. Please note, you’ll be buying the tote itself at full price, and the sale is limited to one full tote of discounted goods per customer.
- Last pop-up of the Summer! Tonight (Friday) we’ll be at Hoops Brewing slinging tacos from 5pm until they’re gone. The tacos will be tasty and the salsas will be fresh.
- Business is good…sometimes too good. Thanks to you, our awesome customers, we have been regularly selling out of a bunch of our inventory. This is a double-edged sword, of course, as our business is thriving, sometimes at the expense of our customers being able to get their favorite items. A frozen Berkshire ham that arrives at our store takes two weeks to become the delicious smoked ham in our deli case, and our salumi cures for up to a month. Ciscos are fantastic when we have them, but I still haven’t quite figured out when they’re in-season. Production doesn’t really ever slow down for us, and we do our best to keep our little deli fully stocked. So shoutout to you, dear customers, for keeping us on our feet, but please bear with us if you ever catch us without your favorite item. If you’re curious, you can check in with us to see if and when we’ll have a particular item in stock.
- Bread joys and woes. Our beloved baker, Jerry, has been steadily honing his craft in our kitchen. All of our rye bread is now made in-haus, as well as the rosemary potato rolls upon which we serve our Monday smokers’ choice special. White bread and stiratos are in the works, but not quite ready for mass-production. Baking bread is truly an art-form, and one we are glad to be adding to our establishment. We recently purchased a new (much larger) oven to bake said bread, though it hasn’t been a perfectly smooth ride thus far. There have been a few technical issues with the oven over the past week that have put a hitch in our production. Fortunately, Jerry is a gosh-darn workhorse, and has us stocked on rye and potato rolls for weeks to come.So there you have it. It’s been a pretty exciting ride around these parts. Thanks for bearing with us in the long lines, and for your patience with us during our growth spurt. You, and our love of good food, are the reason we’re here.
Stay tuned for exciting updates in the near future. Planning for our 20th Anniversary party is ongoing and we’ll be making announcements soon. Unless I decide to write another blog post in the meantime, I’ll see you next week.