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5 Things: June 28th, 2019

So many Things™ this week, so little time to discuss them.

Photo by Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com

Fortunately the Duluth News Tribune covered a big one for us—our beloved General Manager, and 18-year NWS staff member, Mary Tennis, is celebrating her last day being a central figure of Smokehaus life. Read about her next adventure here.

This week, we also had a planning meeting for our cookbook, which is currently in development. Mary has been central to the cookbook work that has gotten us so far, and I am personally grateful that she wants to continue working on the cookbook, because it means we’ll get to hang out, and she has an affinity for writing about food and NWS, which means future NWS cookbook owners are going to have some heartfelt reading in-store for them.

Grandma’s Marathon happened last weekend, and we survived the inundation of out-of-towners another year. We’re even doing pretty well at keeping all of our customer-favorite products in-stock. All of our salumi varieties are set to be available this weekend.

Honestly, none of these Things™ are what I want to write about this week. Maybe it’s the fact that, by the time this is posted, I will be in the midst of an 8-hour drive beginning a week of vacation, or maybe it’s just that, with all the heavy, beginning-of-a-new-chapter kind of stuff happening this week, I wanted to keep the blog nice and fluffy, but here it is—this week’s 5 Things™:

Our current best-sellers, by category (with brief commentary):

This information is based on our previous two weeks of sales. Take everything I say with a grain of salt. In the case of cured meats, several thousand grains of salt.

  1. Bent Hop is a winner. Bent Paddle Brewing Company has become a fine representative of our city’s craft brewing scene, and their Golden IPA is currently leading the beverage sales at our deli. It’s a perfect beer for Duluth summer weather, and by that, I mean it is versatile. Hot, sunny day? Crack open a crisp Bent Hop. Rainy, chilly, windy day? Enjoy that crispness indoors, and stimulate those blood vessels in your skin to a comforting simulacrum of warmth. Likewise, this beer goes well with just about every sandwich on our menu. Cheers to Bent Paddle.
  2. Carr Valley Apple Smoked Cheddar is almost the best selling cheese. Our little goat cheese medallions have outsold it, likely because of the ~$1 price point. The smoked cheddar, out of La Valle, WI, is a close second, which makes sense. It’s hard to punctuate a description of your store to include “smoked meats” and “cheese” without suggesting that the cheeses are also smoked, and beyond that, folks are frequently in the market for a good smoked cheese. The Apple Smoked Cheddar fills that role perfectly.
  3. Our top-selling baked good is Coconut Macaroons. Patricia, our CCO (chief cookie officer) can do no wrong. Somehow, since Patricia joined the team, cookies have become a top-seller in our deli. She even found a way to make coconut macaroons taste good—my own opinion, remember those salt grains. In addition to being sweet, and the perfect blend of chewy and crunchy, these cookies are also gluten free, which opens them up to a wider audience. They’re available for individual purchase, or make a great Box Lunch option.
  4. Big Jims are the current best-seller in meat sticks. They’ve outsold our Royale With Cheese bacon-cheeseburger sticks by a narrow margin, and our Smoked Salmon sticks by a sliiiightly less narrow margin. On top of that, they’re my personal favorite of our snack stick selection. Big Jim Hatch Chiles offer a mild, yet memorable, spice. The asterisk to this best-seller is that our Bison Buddies were out-of-stock the last two weeks. Bison Buddies still might be the one stick to rule them all. Only time will tell.
  5. “All Are Welcome” stickers are the best-seller in our swag selection. I love this because investing in the community is important and this item is about more than just the boundless accumulation of capital. Proceeds from the sale of these stickers go to Together For Youth, an organization that advocates for and provides support to LGBTQ youth in our community. I mean, the stickers look really cool too, but making an impact in the community makes them 100-times cooler in my mind. For more information about Together For Youth, follow this link.
  6. Here’s a bonus thing, which shouldn’t surprise you. Another tricky punctuation bit—should it not surprise you because, historically, I add bonus Things™ all the time, or should the fact itself not be surprising? Perhaps a bit of both. The Cajun Finn is still our number-one seller, selling 710 units in the last two weeks. I have been a part of at least one conversation about creating a specific “Cajun Finn-maker” shift to the deli roster.

Thanks for stopping by this week’s 5 Things™.

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5 Things: June 21st, 2019

Brace yourselves!

It’s Grandma’s Marathon weekend.

The weekend when the population of Duluth quadruples or quintuples (or something like that) and the place where it is most apparent is in Canal Park.

This 5 Things™ post is all about what to expect if you’re planning an excursion to the area this weekend.

Saturday of Grandma’s weekend is a historically chill day at NWS. I could list all of the reasons that I think factor into this, but the bottom line is that marathon Saturday is a great time to stop in for a weekend Smokehaus lunch. I can’t promise there won’t be a line, but it is typically much shorter wait on race day. That is, unless everyone reads this blog and gets the same idea. I can promise we’ll have our full beer and wine selection, and at least 90% of our sandwich menu, available.

We are shutting down delivery on Saturday. Between the vehicle- and foot-traffic, the parking spots that fill up as soon as a car leaves them, and the five-billion (or so) extra people in town who might pass through our doors, it isn’t a weekend conducive with delivery. We do our best to double-down and provide top-notch service from our DeWitt-Seitz Marketplace headquarters.

With that said—

There is a way to bypass our line (regardless of length) on this hectic weekend, and that is to place a pick-up order. Call us at (218)724-7307 (ext. 1) or place an order online—through our website, under the “Local Delivery” then “Order Online” tabs, or the ChowNow app.

When you show up, you have our permission to enter through the door with the big, red “Exit” sign hanging above it, and let an available employee know that you’re here to pick up “[your name here]’s order” of “[whatever it is you ordered].” If it isn’t already waiting behind out sandwich line, we’ll make a quick call downstairs to run it up.

If you’re not running in—or affiliated with anyone running in—the race, you may feel like avoiding the rigmarole altogether, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be that way. Making your way down to Canal Park can be a totally pleasant experience, so long as you know that parking will be a challenge. Grandma’s takes over one parking lot with their tents, and Lake Avenue Café has tents set up in the DeWitt-Seitz Marketplace parking lot. There are a number of paid parking lots, around Canal Park and downtown, and metered spots on South Lake Ave. Here’s the marathon’s route map:

Download or keep a tab open of that map here.

There’s two big concerts going on in the area. This is my favorite reason to head down to Canal Park during marathon weekend.

The line-up for the Grandma’s tent is available here.

Our neighbors at Lake Avenue Café also put on a great weekend of entertainment, food and drink. Check out this line-up:

It’s like a who’s-who of Twin Ports music, with some exceptional out-of-towners rounding out the nights. If you haven’t heard them or seen them live, GGOOLLDD is a band that has some great tunes and puts on an excellent show.


That just about covers the five Things™ I wanted to discuss with you. Wherever you may be this weekend, whatever you may be doing, I hope you stay safe and hydrated. If you’re in the Canal Park area, be patient with your fellow humans and plan ahead—giving yourself that extra fifteen-to-thirty minutes can make a huge difference in finding a parking spot and avoiding unwanted stress.

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5 Things: June 14th, 2019

A lot of Things™ happened this week at NWS. Here’s a handful of them.

Wine joined our beverage list.

We’re officially selling beer and wine in our deli. This is huge news for us, as people love to have a beer or a glass of wine—which we’ll be selling by the glass, or by the bottle with the option of corking it to-go—with a meal.

As soon as we received our buyer’s license, we had pallets of beer from our neighbors at Hoops at our door, ready to sell. Our other vendors quickly followed suit, and we were fully-stocked on beer by the evening.

The wine orders operate on a different schedule, so we went through the weekend without it, but as of yesterday, our wine selection has arrived.

Thought about describing our wines to you, but whoops!, I have not tried them & TK already knocked this one out of the park.

Each of our options falls into the category natural wines, or wines farmed organically and made without adding or removing anything during the fermentation . Like the production of our salumi, this is an ancient tradition. While I haven’t yet had a chance to try our wine selection (it’s only been a day—chill), TK has assured us each of them has something special to offer, and will pair well with just about any item on our menu.

The Spring Roll joined our sandwich menu.

Composed of smoked teriyaki tofu, cabbage, cucumber, pickled vegetables, lettuce, Marcona almonds, basil, cilantro, sriracha and sesame oil with rice vinegar all wrapped up in a naan (or on a hero roll, if you’re ISO a vegan option), this sandwich tickles the tongue, and is taking over a menu slot for The Tempest.

Patricia, who comes in at 5 a.m. to bake cookies and pasties before working in the deli, is an absolutely unstoppable force of creativity with food. Within weeks of her tenure at NWS, she already had folks abuzz about the prototype to this sandwich. Just a few short months later, it has arrived on the sandwich board. At the time, we were making variants with pork loin, gravlax, tofu and even skipping the prepped protein altogether—all of which had their strengths, and are available as substitutions for essential carnivores—but we’ve landed on tofu.

One final note on the Spring Roll: Unlike most of our sandwiches—which are best consumed immediately, or at least within the day if you—there is a strong undercurrent amongst our staff that the sandwich is best eaten after a short wait, or even chilled.

I usually can’t wait that long, but it is worth noting: this is a great picnic sandwich, for that reason.

Michael left for Bonnaroo.

Our co-worker Michael—who typically arrives at work with a ukulele in his hands and a song in his heart—left Tuesday to make his way to Tennessee for Bonnaroo Music Festival.

In addition to catching not one, but two Phish sets, he’s also decided he wants to be the Duluth, MN Bonnaroo Street Team. It sounds a lot more labor intensive than it actually is—he’s just taking a selection from several local breweries, and some NWS “buddies” & swag to the annual Craft Beer Exchange—but it is still awesome that he’s chosen to represent our city.

While I doubt most or any of our readership is currently in Great Stage Park, TN, at the festival, or reading this post in time if they are, check our Instagram later today to see how NWS’s first trip to Bonnaroo is going.

Final round of interviews for our Mail Order director position.

If you didn’t know that we’ve been operating sans-Mail Order Director for an undisclosed temporal span, that’s a good thing and doesn’t surprise me. Our team has a knack for filling-in the cracks when they appear. The marketing & media team have taken over the mail order phone calls, an we needed only list the job internally to find a handful of candidates.

The interview process came to a close this week, and next week, we should have a new director in-place. We’re only six months out from the wild, wild West that is late-November through the end of the year in mail order, so they’ll have a lot on their plate to manage in a short span of time.

Thank you for your patience in the meantime. Our mail order clientele are awesome, and a fundamental aspect of our success as a business, so not having someone specifically in-place to handle that job is not a state in which we ever hope to stay for long.

They asked me if I wanted to lead another scavenger hunt.

This was basically my reaction, I think, though I don’t know the context of this .gif.

Last July, we hid twenty sandwiches-worth of magnets around town in honor of our Twentieth Anniversary. With the exception of a few very thoughtful responses I received, the campaign went over well.

This year, we’ll be doing things a little bit differently. The stakes will be higher, it’s going to be more challenging, and it’s going to happen slightly later in the Summer (personal reasons, don’t worry about it), but believe me when I say I’m very excited to get any willing participants into the outdoors, getting their hands dirty—maybe literally—in pursuit of free NWS grub & swag.

Stay tuned for details in the very near future. Until next time, I am Ned, and these have been five things that happened this week at NWS.

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5 Things: June 7th, 2019

Northern Waters Smokehaus is always evolving.

There are new faces in several departments and more to come in the near future, but there is also a bunch of new hardware. Coolers break down, and cases run out of space. Replacing and upgrading equipment happens more often than you’d expect.

This week’s deli overhaul was a big one, but quite smoothly. The two changes that might catch your eye are the beverage cooler and the fish case. Both are bigger, and in your line of sight when you enter the deli.

The fish case is now a replica of our smoked meat case, which we held onto from the NWR days. Lately, our fish case has been packed to the brim—with candied king salmon and smoked salmon sticks becoming NWS mainstays—almost to our detriment. Cramming a bunch of items in a small space and having to decide which things we stock does our product a disservice. Now that we have a bigger case, there should be no need to wonder whether there are All-Season Filets or Baby Tails. There is room for it all.

The beverage cooler will now need room for our array of soft drinks, as well as beer and wine (*cough* we’ve already got Hoops Brewing beer in-stock and more on its way *cough*). In addition to replacing our old beverage cooler with a taller one, we also swapped out our secret deli freezer for another cooler, to hold back stock of beverages. Fortunately, the freezer has a place in our third floor office.

And finally, my favorite piece of repurposed gear—a cooler that stopped cooling and became extra dry-storage, but needed to stay because it’s our expo station—is now a fully-functional cooler/expo station.

On the aesthetic front, we have new, larger, green and red respectively “Enter” and “Exit” signs (Summer lines! We are prepared for ye this time!) and Flo is painting a mural on our side of the hallway to the elevator. It was a drab hallway, though exceptional at its purpose—leading us to the elevator and service staircase—and in need of some love. Flo has been coming in at 6 a.m. every day to catch as many hours of empty hallway as possible, because Flo is amazing (and the illustrative voice of NWS). The mural—which features at least four very pleasant colors, and whimsical pigs and fish—will be hard to miss and easy to enjoy. I’m personally quite excited to observe the process each morning I come in to work.

We launched another Sandwich Lab special this week. The Sebu-Chan features our scallion cream cheese and buttery Atlantic salmon gravlax on a hausmade ciabatta roll. That alone would make a pretty tasty sandwich, but creator Sebastian complemented that base with a jean jacket (cilantro+sriracha), cucumber, tomato, onion, and lettuce. It’s a sandwich you’ll try once in earnest and end up craving the rest of the week. It’ll be available through the end of June via delivery and in our deli. It costs $10.25 before tax, and, like all Sandwich Lab specials, gets you two stamps on your sandwich card.

We’re at Hoops Brewing for a pop-up tonight, Friday, June 7th. We’re selling half and whole sandwiches, of the Cajun Finn, Cold Turkey, and Fuzzy Bunny varieties. You can now have a Cajun Finn and a Hoops beer at Hoops and Northern Waters Smokehaus.

The Kenspeckle Letterpress shirts are in! I don’t mean to belabor my excitement about this, since I have mentioned it several times before, but they’re finally in, in all sizes! We even have a few nice photographs of them, which is something that previous posts lacked.

Look at these cool T-Shirts:

I can’t wait to pick up a “Fish” shirt, finally. The shirts are $20 and printed on soft, breathable cotton. If this style of art appeals to you, check out the Kenspeckle Letterpress studio. It’s on the second floor of the DeWitt-Seitz Marketplace.

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SANDWICH LAB: The Sebu-Chan

IN THE DELICATESSEN SCENE, NEVER SHAKING UP YOUR SANDWICH MENU IS CONSIDERED ESPECIALLY HEINOUS. AT NORTHERN WATERS SMOKEHAUS, THE DEDICATED DELI EMPLOYEES WHO INNOVATE ON THE SANDWICH MENU ARE MEMBERS OF AN ELITE SQUAD KNOWN AS THE SANDWICH LAB. THESE ARE THEIR STORIES:


The Sebu-Chan is an inspired reimagining of a classic NWS-style sandwich—composed of scallion cream cheese, gravlax, cucumber, tomato, onion, cilantro, lettuce, and sriracha on a hausmade ciabatta—but I’d invite you to think about it more poetically:

The Sebu-Chan, named for its creator, Sebastian—based on a nickname—is inspired by his love of cats. Like a cat, it is playful and bright, but it has a bite. It’s a perfect sandwich to showcase our delicious, buttery gravlax.

It’s whimsical in design—like a rainbow strawberry pop-tart cat flying through space at high speeds to the beat of its own song—but every bite is dead serious delicious sandwich artistry. Like a cat, it is quite pretty to look at, and you might find yourself suddenly compelled to squeeze the heck out of it/take a big bite out of it. It’s called “cute aggression,” and it is totally normal. Fortunately, this is not your pet, so that would be totally okay and appropriate.

The Sebu-Chan will be available in our deli, and via pickup and delivery, Wednesday, June 5th through Sunday, June 30th for $10.25 and like all Sandwich Lab creations, it gets you double stamps on your loyalty card.


WHAT IS SANDWICH LAB?
AT NORTHERN WATERS SMOKEHAUS, OUR WORK IS PLAYING WITH FOOD. THAT MEANS SOMETIMES, IN THE LINE OF DUTY, WE STUMBLE UPON AN AMAZING COMBINATION OF INGREDIENTS THAT EVOLVES OVER SEVERAL SHIFT-MEALS INTO A NOTEWORTHY NEW SANDWICH. OTHER TIMES WE UNCOVER A MORE EFFICIENT WAY TO BUILD A SANDWICH, OR WE SWAP AN INGREDIENT ON A CURRENT MENU ITEM. SANDWICH LAB IS AN ANNUAL GATHERING OF OUR STAFF TO REFINE OUR SANDWICH-LINE SKILLS, TO COME TO AGREEMENT ON ANY CONTROVERSIES, AND—THE BEST PART—TO INTRODUCE OUR PET SANDWICHES TO THE GREATER SMOKEHAUS COMMUNITY.
NOTABLE SANDWICH LAB FINDINGS FROM PREVIOUS YEARS INCLUDE THE CEDARS’S SECRET, THE PURPLE RANGE, THE PHOEBE, AND THE PORK LION. LAST YEAR’S SANDWICH LAB HAD SO MANY GOOD SANDWICHES THAT WE COULDN’T DECIDE ON JUST ONE OR TWO TO ADD TO THE MENU, SO WE DECIDED TO GIVE THEM ALL A CHANCE TO SHINE, AS MONTH-LONG SPECIALS.