This week’s edition of 5 Things™ contains fewer photos, fewer hyperlinks, fewer pop-culture references, and a higher word-count. That’s just how I’m feeling this week. Therein is the power of blogging.
- Imagine Canal Park comes to a close! The Option 1 temporary reconfiguration of Canal Park entered its final week and Imagine Duluth 2035 has given the public a chance to clap back. Whether you loved it, hated it, or couldn’t care less about it, there is a survey here that you should definitely take. Trust me when I say I know people love to share their opinions on things. This is a great opportunity to do that as constructively as you choose. (Breaking news: Option 1 is gone! Buchanan Street is back! My coworker informed me of this just as I was about to publish the post.)
- Best of the Wurst reflection! Northern Waters Smokehaus made our debut appearance at the Sociable Ciderworks “Best of the Wurst” event, and in our modus operandi, we were doing something a little bit different than everyone else. A lot of talented sausage-makers brought their A-game to the event, and we spared ourselves a lot of set-up and tear-down time by bringing a fine selection of dry-cured salumi, alongside sliced cold Polish sausage, andouille and a selection of cheeses. We took second place in a category of two, so you can just interpret that however you’d like, but you know we’re not out here for the prizes. We just love sharing our awesome food with everyone everywhere.
- The William A. Irvin was moved! You know the one—that big ol’ red freighter that has been moored in Canal Park longer than our business has been here. Turns out it is high-time for some infrastructural updates and cleaning of its house. The types of citizens who enjoy spending their chilly Tuesday nights wrapped in blankets, watching the slower-than-paint-drying progress of large boats being tugged away turned out in droves to watch the three-hour spectacle. The 611-foot ship, which has no propulsion mechanism of its own, currently resides at the Fraser Shipyard in Superior, WI while the renovations are underway.
- Duluth had its rainy season! Surely no one who has spent more than a few minutes of time in Duluth is surprised, but the weather was something else this week. During the time I have spent composing this post, I have seen sunshine, sun showers, cloudy skies, cloudy rainy skies, and now that weather phenomenon that pessimists and optimists will eternally debate calling partly-cloudy or partly-sunny. On one hand, I love the lulls our shop experiences on inclement days, and there is something very soothing about the web-like water trails cascading down our windows; on the other hand, many of my coworkers bike and walk to work, so I feel bad for them—I will certainly be keeping my distance from those early-Autumn colds they catch.
- Our 20th Anniversary Celebration takes place tomorrow! Regular readers of this column know I have been scraping by on rehashed stories and different angles on the same topics for a few weeks now, but for those arriving at this page for the first time, here’s the scoop. Officially, sometime in November of this year, Northern Waters Smokehaus turns 20 years old, and that is pretty cool, to say the least. Normally, this time of the year we have a big private party to celebrate ourselves by eating and drinking like royalty, but in honor of this momentous occasion, we have elected to bring it to the people. If not for you, our beloved customers, we wouldn’t be here, so we want you to share in the festivities. If you find yourself compelled to come mingle and hobnob with us and ours, we heartily encourage you to swing by Hoops Brewing from 5-8pm (all ages—free food* and beer in limited quantities), and the Rex Bar from 830-whenever it ends (free music in limitless quantities). Both events are free, open to the public, and sure to be a blast. (Note: to facilitate maximum revelry for our employees, we’ll be closing our deli down at 4pm this day).
That’s all for this week’s 5 Things™. As always, I hope you have enjoyed yourself, and leave here feeling educated and enriched. It is a joy writing for you.
*Rumor has it we’ll be serving the infamous Northern Waters Restaurant Lake Trout Chowder. Back by popular demand.
Perhaps you’re a regular reader of this blog, or perhaps this is your first time. Either way, I’ll begin by saying that, by and large, most weeks at NWS end up being very similar—we work the grind. Exciting stuff happens around here so often that the extraordinary ends up feeling pretty ordinary. As such, I usually default to some sort of cheekiness in my introductions to this blog. It livens up the writing process for me. However, I’ve had a realization that some of these seemingly mundane happenings in my workplace might actually be more interesting than I had previously realized, and that maybe I take for granted working one of the coolest jobs I have had/one of the coolest jobs to be had. So, with that, here’s five things that are either pretty rad, or that I’m going to spin into radness, that happened on or around this week.
- We got a new POS! For the uninitiated, that’s point-of-sale, not piece of [excrement], though sometimes technology feels like that, doesn’t it? Xevious Stevenson, our awesome Client Success Manager (nabbed that title from his business card, since it seems very fitting, considering the work he put in on our transition day) spent a very full workday installing the system, fielding our plentiful (excessive?) questions, reprogramming the system to our specifications, and cracking jokes alongside us as if he had been a part of our team for years. Transitioning to the new system happened on a very busy Thursday, so we’re grateful to our customers for bearing with us. Our hope is this new system allows us to fully integrate all of our departments seamlessly, to limit the confusion between our several distinct departments we have recently come to know. As a nearly five-year employee, I have been amazed every year by our continuous growth and success. Hard work and commitment to quality appears to pay off, friends.
- We have new employees! I’m not sure how shy they are yet, so I’m not going to start dropping names to the masses, but it seems like we’re hiring the cream of the crop. New coworkers are great, because they tend to have very positive outlooks on what a jaded, bitter old soul like me considers tedious work. All jokes aside—cough*where’s the joke?*cough—it’s great to have more hands on deck, because the workload has not slowed down for us here at Northern Waters. It’s also always exciting to add to the wall of heights.
- We have a tomato surplus! Inventory/ordering/production is a challenging speculative enterprise. Sometimes you’re slotted in a tight barrel of tomato-heavy salads, sauces, and sandwiches, and the next week you realize the weekend crew was totally skunked, and now there’s twelve full racks of tomatoes and nowhere to put half of them. Yes, I just googled surfing slang, and no, there will be no glossary at the back of the book. Anyway, I was very amused by my coworkers’ reactions when the order came in on Monday, doubling our tomato supply. Today, the prep department has been hard at work on a 160-sandwich pickup order, so hopefully that puts a dent in the inventory. And if it doesn’t, I’m crossing my fingers for the return of Meatball Mondays at NWS. Relevant to the topic, here’s a favorite song of mine. The only thing that’s wrong with it is its <2 minute duration.
- Olivia sliced a ton of bacon and was pretty excited about it! To be honest, there’s a few people I’ve met in my life who probably dream about slicing and handling this much bacon, so her excitement doesn’t surprise me. This is part of the Sisyphean preparation for the infamous Mail-Order Season, which never really ends, but has vague terminal points in the middle of November and the beginning of January. Back to the bacon—she even provided me with a photograph. Enjoy.
- We are on the cusp of two awesome weekends! As I have previously mentioned, this weekend we are heading down to Best of the Wurst, hosted by Sociable Ciderworks. That in itself is pretty cool, but I have no doubts the following weekend is going to top it. On September 29th, at Hoops Brewing and then at Rex Bar, we are throwing a big ol’ public hootenanny to celebrate twenty years of smoking something (mostly fish and meats). There will be free food (provided by us), free beer (provided by us in conjunction with Hoops), and free music (provided by bands featuring members of our team—curated by myself, Greg the H.R. wizard, and dynamic design duo Jacob and Zac). We’ll be closing the shop’s doors at 4pm, so that all of our employees can party down with you. I didn’t know Eric when he began this business, but just a few moments of interacting him will give you an insight into how proud he is of this little deli.
So, there you have it. Count ‘em up, because you just got six things (and some slick anecdotes) for the price of five. That’s what they call extra value. See you at next week’s five things blog, unless my in-progress exposé on bison pastrami, or the first installation upcoming Practical Guide to Northern Waters Smokehaus series hits the web first, or if you come in and talk to me while I’m working in the deli. Anything is possible if you follow your dreams.
20 YEARS OF SMOKING SOMETHING
FREE FOOD & MUSIC
Saturday, Sep. 29th, 5pm-12am
One Night, Two Parties!
With a Hausmade playlist by Smokehaus DJs.
Enter a raffle to win Smokehaus gift cards & march!
Featuring many Smokehaus artists:
There will be no lengthy preamble to our 5 Things™ this week. Just gaze into the Mirror of Galadriel—
- Oktoberfest at Hoops! Gosh, we are pumped to be a part of this event. On Saturday, October 6th, from 1-11pm, we’ll be bringing our German A-game to Hoops Brewing to the kind of pop-up this Goerdt-owned business has been waiting for. There’s no definitive menu yet, but preliminary discussion has mentioned our Classic German brats, hella sauerkraut and beets. Check out details (beet-tails?) here and here.
- Anniversary party raffle! A growing list of businesses are joining forces with us to raise funds for Together For Youth, “an inclusive, supportive and welcoming group for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, two spirit and allied youth in Duluth and Virginia, Minnesota,” that works to offer a safe space and resource network for area youth. $1 raffle tickets will go on sale next week in our shop, and will be sold until the end of our 20th anniversary party and afterparty. Winners will be announced the following week. This is an opportunity to raise some serious cash for an organization doing important work in our community. 100% of raffle proceeds will go to Together For Youth. Tune in in the next few weeks for a complete list of participating businesses: The prizes are sure to be awesome.
- A Dewitt-Seitz Marketplace collaborative picnic basket is in the works! This egregiously long subheading is for the outdoorsy types and leaf peepers, and it pretty much does most of the work for the body of text. The picnic baskets will go on sale in October. Participating businesses at time of press include Amazing Grace Bakery & Café, Blue Heron Trading Company, Hepzibah’s Sweet Shoppe, and yours truly. Combine this with some warm beverages from Duluth Coffee Company, or some craft brews from one of our many local breweries, then head out to Hawk’s Ridge, some length of Lake Superior shore, or a spot along Skyline Parkway and you’ll be well on your way to being about as ‘Luth as it gets.
- Option 1 is in full-effect! For more information about Option 1, check out the press release. I have enjoyed several of my breaks in the new seating areas, and it is definitely nice to have more outdoor public seating options in the area. This week I am very excited about the sweet new paint-by-numbers mural—Akawe Nibi, by Moira Villiard—located on Buchanan Street. Villiard designed the mural, and the locals and tourists in the community came together over two days to paint it. Come down and see it in person, and have a relaxing lunch amidst the chaos of Canal Park.*
- We had an all-staff meeting on Sunday! Four-ish times a year, we gather as many of our 40+ employees as we can fit in our third-floor office and discuss the goings-on and future of the business—new products, the fate of our enormous menu**, new employees, precisely how many new employees we still need (hit us up with those résumés), and the latest inside jokes. As always, the true purpose of the meeting is to make it to the end and consume pizza and sudsy beverages.
I hope you have enjoyed this week’s installment of 5 Things™ and keep tuning in each week. It is my pleasure to keep you updated. Perhaps I should go home and watch The Fellowship of the Ring, because it has begun to affect my work.
*Note: Not all opinions expressed in this blog fully reflect the views of Northern Waters Smokehaus, and chaos is not inherently bad.
**It’s going to stay enormous, but we’re working on developing a quick-start menu those new to our store, interested in knowing the must-try items.
While Fall is not technically here, we at Northern Waters Smokehaus have decided that it is for us, which seems like a good enough place to begin—
- Our first pop-up of the season is tonight! Eric and the gang whipped up some tacos that are so dang good we just have to share them with the world—chicken and smoked pork shoulder, slow cooked for six hours with poblano chiles, onion, and juiced whole limes, which are then pulled and “roached” (a NWS neologism for flash roasting) the day of the event (aka today). We’ll be slinging them with fresh salsas at Hoops Brewing from 5-10pm.
- We have begun storyboarding our Fall product catalog! In our 20th year, we have decided it is high-time to display our fabulous food in a beautiful booklet. Our dutiful design team has really done number on this project, which is nigh complete, and should be hitting the shelves soon, since it’s, y’know, our Fall product catalog. We’ll keep you updated, but here’s a preview.
- Eric spoke with the Duluth News Tribune! Jana Hollingsworth from the DNT came by and observed Eric in his natural habitat—elbows deep* in the process of preparing tacos—for an upcoming profile in the paper. From what I have heard, it was an boisterous and enlightening conversation, full of colorful language which will probably not make it to print, that will offer readers a first-hand account of the beginnings, trials, tribulations, and ultimately, enduring success of our humble deli. Since they gave me the keys to the blog-Corvette, I’ll speak on behalf of the company and express how honored and humbled we are to be given this opportunity to share a bit of ourselves with the community.
- We’re hiring again! Seasons come and go, people come and go, but business remains the same. To match demand for our product, we’re hiring in all departments. If you have a commitment to good food, fast-paced teamwork, and inside jokes ranging from absolutely dumb to sidesplittingly hilarious, you’re almost entirely the profile of a Smokehaus employee. Benefits of the job include a free meal each shift, competitive pay rates, healthcare options, friendship, and the opportunity to make loud airhorn noises with your coworkers whenever you happen to congregate in large groups. Bring your resume!
- We got rid of the standing desk! It just didn’t work out. Who even really likes standing anyway? #couchlife
As always, it has been a pleasure writing at you. Catch you again this time next week.