October is here. It’s my favorite month of the year. Despite the gloomy forecasts every day so far, I’m still pleasantly surprised by the gradual slowing-down of life, the turning of the trees, and the shifting priorities around the Smokehaus. And on top of all that, our company D&D cohort is back on track to the primary campaign, and had an excitement-laden October 1st session that leveled us up. I’ll leave the details up to your imagination, but thanks to a dragonborn paladin, an Aussie-accented dwarf bard, a tabaxi arcane archer, and an efreet trapped in the physical form of an iron golem who lives to serve those who know his true name (and as such, ended up doing a lot of damage for both sides), the fire giant nation is less a king and queen, and Faerun is a little bit safer. Now, on to the five things that I came here to write—
We have yet another new floor! This is becoming a bit of a theme, isn’t it. While it seems like our business has no ceilings, we have plenty of floors, and we’re trying to remove the carpet from all of them, to further increase our workable, food-safe areas. This has led to a lot of comically-placed desks, and really more heavy-lifting than any of us signed on for. All’s well that ends well, however, and the floors are turning out beautifully. Enjoy some smartphone photographs.
Our party and afterparty were a blast! Truth be told, I’m a bit socially anxious, so I didn’t last long at the party, but from the moment the party officially began, there was a line wrapped around Hoops Brewing to cash in on our panoply of free food. About forty-five minutes in, Eric had to run over to the Smokehaus to re-up the All Season Fillet stock. A few unsuspecting Hoops patrons were even overheard saying, “we should really hire them to cater [our upcoming event].” Everybody won, it seems. The afterparty, which featured several Smokehaus-affiliated bands, was also a blast. Folks bought a grip of raffle tickets for Together for Youth, and good times were had by all.
We attended the Minnesota Hospitality Expo! Ever seeking to be more hospitable to our awesome customers (and coworkers), we sent a battalion of desk-jockeys*, owners, and managers to the Minnesota Hospitality Expo. Ari Weinzweig, co-owner and founding partner of the legendary Zingerman’s, was the keynote speaker, and I know Eric and the others have taken a lot of inspiration from the ethos of that business. If I had been there myself, I could perhaps tell you more about their experience and lessons learned, but suffice it to say that you can expect a lot of it to be put into practice in our own business. Stop by (or continue to stop by) in the next few months to enjoy an extra-specially hospitable Northern Waters Smokehaus.
*(See: awesome H.R. legend, Greg, and design aficionado, Flo.)
Eric made prepped chorizo with Nick! For the first time in a long, undisclosed amount of time, Eric rolled up his sleeves for the task of Spanish-style Chorizo prep with smoker Nick. While photographing part of the process, I was able to glean some terse, very Eric-style lessons about our history, the tricks of the trade for cultivating various wursts and salumi, and what processes we use to give ourselves an edge over your standard mass-produced meat products. Eric is a gem and a true expert of his craft, and alongside Nick’s skilled hands, they made quick work of processing the chorizo. That reminds me: Do you know why the scarecrow became world-renowned? Because it was outstanding in its field.
Our offices are forever evolving! I know, I know! I have already mentioned the floors being redone, but more importantly, I want you to know about the new jungle corner that has taken hold of our marketing and design office. These plants came from our patio, but the encroaching cold weather had made them very sad. We took them inside, and put them by a window, and now they are alive and well and doing their part to purify our air. Thanks, plants!
Thanks for tuning in. Have a great week, or if you never return to the 5 Things™ blog, a great life.
Baby, do I love ham! But let’s say that you cooked a ham for a special occasion and had A LOT of it left over. Ham is great (pro tip: it also freezes really well), but if your ham leftover contingency arsenal consists solely of ham sandwiches… you’re going to become incredibly tired of ham sandwiches. One delicious option that it seems hardly anyone knows about for ham is making it into a meatball! You can use basically any old meatball recipe that you like and just substitute ham for part or all of the ground meat. The sauce recipes are also just guidelines, so add or subtract things as your taste dictates. What follows here is a basic ham meatball recipe that can be served in any style that you deem solid. I’ve given you the recipes for a Swedish gravy or a sweet n sour sauce , but I am positive that these meatballs would also land favorably in a soup, skewered up with peppers on the grill, in a stir fry or as a topping on a pizza. As with any meatball, I recommend making a whole bunch of them at once if you have the ingredients and freezing the excess balls raw, which will make for quick and easy meals in the future.
For the meatballs:
½ lb ground beef (or any ground meat) ½ lb Northern Waters Smokehaus Berkshire ham, ground up in a food processor or meat grinder 1 large egg 1 slice of white bread, crust removed ¼ C milk ½ cup onion, minced 4 T olive oil or any neutral oil ( I recommend using 4 T butter for the Swedish version) Place the milk and the slice of bread in a small saucepan. Bring the milk to a gentle simmer until it is absorbed by the slice of bread (a couple of minutes). Using a fork, shred up the bread and milk, then place it in a mixing bowl. Add the onion and the egg to the bread, mixing it into a loose paste. Add the ground meat and ground ham last, mixing it by hand until just combined (try to gently incorporate all ingredients until they are just holding together enough to form your meatballs). The meatballs can be as large or as small as you would like. Once the meatballs are formed, bring a large skillet to medium heat with the oil or butter in it, and brown your meatballs on all sides. At this point, you can continue cooking them until they are cooked through, or finish them in whatever sauce you are serving them in. Either way, once the meatballs are ready to come out of the pan, drain them first on a paper towel, paper bag, or on a rack. Do not completely clean out your pan- you may need it to make your sauce in! Makes 4-6 main course servings. For sweet and sour sauce: 1 ½ C water ¼ C distilled white vinegar ¼ cup ketchup 3 T cornstarch (you can substitute all purpose flour) 3 T soy sauce (Optional) diced pineapple, peppers Scallions to garnish Whisk the water, vinegar, ketchup, cornstarch, soy sauce and optional vegetables together and add to a large sauce pan (you can do this in the same pan you cooked your meatballs in but be sure to drain off any excess oil). Bring the sauce to a simmer for 3 minutes or so. Add meatballs to the sauce and simmer until cooked through. Serve as a stand-alone appetizer, over rice, or lo mein noodles. Garnish with chopped scallions or chives. For Swedish gravy: 4 tbsp. butter 3 tbsp. flour 2 cups beef broth 1 cup heavy cream 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce 1 tsp. Dijon mustard ¼ t nutmeg ½ t garlic powder salt and pepper to taste
chopped parsley to garnish (optional) In the pan you cooked your meatballs in, add 4 T of butter and bring to a medium heat until foamy. Try to use the butter heating time to scrape the browned bits off of the bottom of the pan with a spatula or fork. Slowly incorporate flour, whisking until it turns a light brown color. Slowly whisk in broth and heavy cream. Whisk in Worchestershire, Dijon mustard, nutmeg and garlic powder. Bring to a simmer until sauce starts to thicken. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add your meatballs and heat until cooked through. Serve over mashed potatoes or egg noodles and garnish with chopped parsley.
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 conjunctionwith 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 serieshits 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.
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.
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.
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.)