Posted on

5 Things That Were, Are, Or Have Not Yet Come To Pass

There will be no lengthy preamble to our 5 Things™ this week. Just gaze into the Mirror of Galadriel—

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.*
  5. 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.

Posted on

5 Things That Happened This Week

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—

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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!
  5. 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.
Posted on

5 Things That Are Happening At Or Around NWS

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:

  1. 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.
     
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. NWS got their first standing desk.
    This one speaks for itself. A signature NWS innovation.
    Thanks for tuning in, friends. See you next week.
Posted on

5 Things That Happened At NWS (Since The Last 5 Things Post)

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.

  1. 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.
     
  2. 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!
  3. 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.
  4. 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!
  5. 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!

Posted on

5 Things (And A Bonus Thing) That Happened This Week At Northern Waters Smokehaus

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.)

Posted on

5 Things That Happened This Week

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

Posted on

5 Things That Happened (Or That We Are Choosing To Acknowledge) This Week!

Welcome, dear reader, to the first edition of me, Ned, telling you about things that happened this week at the Smokehaus. You are in for a treat!
Let’s get to it.

 

 

  1. Upgrading our facilities. The breadth of our business is expanding quickly and our workspace is bursting at the seams. To maximize our ability to produce and supply you with our food, we are in the process of remodeling our third-floor office with Fiberglass Reinforced Plastic walls, which will make the space food safe. That means food prep and production will begin happening on every level of the Smokehaus.

 

 

 

 

2. A successful new promotion. The first Great Cajun Finn Scavenger Hunt wraps up this week! What initially began as a collaborative project between several of us finally fell solely into my very capable hands. After chatting with several very happy winners/scavengers, I am pleased to call this promotion a great success. It tapped into the inherent sense of adventure that many of our customers share, and hiding the magnets/writing the clues was a blast for me. Every magnet* has been found, the quickest of which in a measly twelve minutes, and the slowest of which several days after the fact. Do you think we should make this an annual event? I’m already brainstorming ways to increase the challenge level and make the hunt more adventure-intensive for next season.
*Okay, I’m writing this on Thursday, so that might not be strictly true at the time of publishing. I’m doing my best.

 

 

3. An exciting pop-up and new booze. Vikre Distillery is releasing their brand-new Bent Paddle Black Malt Whiskey today, and we are taking part in the celebration with a pop-up in their space. This is the first time a NW Smokehaus pop-up will have taken place in Vikre’s awesome location, and we’re capitalizing on this momentous step in our ongoing relationship by serving sandwiches with gravlax cured in the new whiskey, in addition to tasty pork loin sandwiches. This party will also feature music by Emily Haavik & the 35s. You won’t want to miss this epic event two years in the making.

 

 

4.Hats! We finally have hats! Our design team went H.A.M. on comfortable and stylish camp caps featuring our Yin-Yang fish logo. They’re available for $20 in our shop and you’ll be sure to see them on the heads of many members of our staff. For those of you trying to stay warm, don’t fret: Smokehaus beanies are coming this Fall!

 

 

 

5. Umbrellas (-ellas, -ellas). We have been working doggedly this Summer to beautify and improve our patio space, and some of you have definitely experienced the woes of our first attempt at setting up sun umbrellas. Basically, it was absolute chaos. The first umbrellas we ordered were quite counter-intuitive and loved to catch wind, which led to epic struggles and slapstick-caliber hijinks for our staff and customers alike. Fortunately, the heroes at San Pellegrino came to our rescue and hooked us up with some awesome umbrellas to mount on our tables. Not only do they look slick, but they are also highly functional. As something of a nod to them, as well as to our numerous customers who thirst for unflavored soda water and San Pellegrino options beyond our standard Blood Orange, we’re going to be adding classy glass San Pellegrino bottles to our lineup in the near future. Stay tuned.

So, there you have it. Wasn’t that fun? Tune in next week, same-ish time for more updates on life at Northern Waters Smokehaus, as interpreted by your old pal, Ned.

Posted on

Deep Cuts, Volume 1: Pancetta Fantasia

Now that the summer rush is over, and the mayhem of December has only begun to fully impact our shop, I have had a lot of time to reflect on our products. Sure, they’re great (some award-winning). Sure, we as a deli have concocted a large number of sandwiches and platters to show them off. Sure, you may have read the blog posts and online reviews, or have yourself experienced dreaming about them. But have any of us fully experienced their potential? This new column is a stab at indexing the various applications and combinations of the products available at our humble deli. It originates from discussions with coworkers, my own experimentation, standard (free!) sample combinations we’re fond of offering to our beloved patrons, and NWS takes on classic dishes. Hopefully, it will someday incorporate NWS crew-approved suggestions from you, dear reader. These are some ideas from my first day of R&D. This will be serial. This is only the beginning.


First up, we have pancetta recipes. Pancetta is an Italian-style bacon made of pork belly meat. Here at NWS, we make our pancetta with high-quality Minnesota-raised Berkshire pork and smoke it to savory perfection. Though it is commonly served cold-cut, we most prominently feature crispy pancetta alongside maple-sage smoked turkey breast on our best-selling daily (Thursday) special, the Clubhaus. It’s also available for purchase by-weight from our deli—sliced is best for sandwiches, charcuterie arrangements and crispy bacon; otherwise I’d recommend a slab 1-2” thick.

 

Pancetta combinations

 

  • Pancetta & peas – This one speaks for itself. Cube some pancetta, strain a can of peas, fry up the pancetta in a pan, and once it’s bubbling in its own grease, throw in the peas. Serve it as is, as a side; or throw it over brown rice and call it a light meal.
  • Pancetta potatoes – Looking for a bit more bang for your buck? This tip is a favorite of our beloved owner, Eric. When you fry your pancetta, save the grease for delicious fried potatoes. Season with rosemary, thyme, or your choice of herbs.
  • The Pan-Cheddar – Brace yourself. To be honest, I am salivating, perspiring, and hyperventilating thinking about this one. It begins with a story:

Once upon a time, when NWS began selling Widmer’s (amazing!) Two-Year Cheddar, the staff lost their collective mind. We are big fans of snacking around here, and as such, we began experimenting with and munching on cubes of that sweet, sweet cheddar, until the time came that we had eaten more of the “Forbidden Cheddar” than we had sold. Those were decadent and magical times, and though they are missed, they will never be forgotten. One of my favorite experiments is a sandwich, which will probably never make it onto our menu, but is easily attainable for our customers. It has three ingredients—all available for purchase from our deli: pancetta, Widmer’s Two-Year Cheddar, and a bagel. The instructions are simple: in a pan or in the oven, melt as much cheddar as you see fit on top of as much pancetta as you see fit (a thin layer of cheddar over a quarter inch-thick slice of pancetta works for me, but really, go crazy); toast a bagel; put the two together; die and go to food heaven.

 

 

 

 

 

The possibilities of NWS smoked pancetta are as limitless as your imagination. Customers have often bragged to me of their delicious pancetta jam and soup recipes, though since they have yet to bring me any samples, the jury is still out—If I’m talking about you and you’re reading this, get at me: sales@nwsmokehaus.com cc: Ned. Anywhere you want a high flavor-impact meat to influence your dish, smoked pancetta is a worthwhile option. Or you could just take a page from my playbook and treat it as its own dish right off the slicer. I won’t judge you.

Like what you read? Stay tuned for more of Ned’s natterings, Recipes, 5 Things, and more by following us.

Posted on

How to Survive a Summer Line at Northern Waters Smokehaus

By Ned Netzel, Frontline Force, Musician, Sandwich Inventor

Dig, if you will, a picture of yourself entering Dewitt-Seitz Marketplace for the first time. It is a sunny, hot summer day, and you have just spent the last fifteen minutes searching for a parking spot or “bridged.” Your GPS has sent you on what seems like a wild goose- *ahem* salmon-chase, but finally you arrive at our shop—perhaps you first heard of us while watching our segment on Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives (filmed during our more idle days)—and after entering through the modestly-labelled “exit” door (appropriate only while wearing a raspberry beret) are asked to head to the back of what appears to be a line all the way through the building. Trust me: Those of us making sandwiches behind the counter are just as terrified as you. And those of us behind the deli cases feel for you. Now that we’ve acknowledged the mutual trepidation, I would like to lay out a (fingers crossed) concise guide to improving your experience, and that of your fellow patrons, at our establishment.

The “Flow” of our shop

This section is not about our talented designer, “Flo;” it is about the best way to navigate our tiny shop. A somewhat superficially confusing interior design element of our shop is that the checkout register is directly next to the exit door. Allow me to explain why this works best for everyone in three short points: First, it allows us to direct our line down through the building in such a manner that it neither clogs the hallway, nor blocks the entrance to our amazing neighbors, Lake Avenue Café . Secondly, it allows us to divide our tiny (even at two-times the size it was just 3 years ago) shop into an initial grocery/deliberation section, an ordering/payment section, and a final waiting/dining section. If this path is followed, the line will move steadily and your likeliness of feeling stuck in line will decrease greatly. Order grocery items, ask questions, and contemplate your sandwich order before the register; place sandwich orders at the register; prepare to be amazed after the register. My awesome (see: helpful, hilarious) coworkers and I are always there to help with the process, but you, dear reader, shall no longer be dependent on them.
Pro-tip: If you know exactly what you want, try ordering from our pickup/delivery department. You can even order online!

 

Interacting with Our Staff

Everyone in our shop is either human or service animal, so miscommunication is inevitable, but our staff is trained to do everything in our power to provide you with excellent service. Here are a few things you should feel free to ask of us, if we haven’t already offered them:

An Italiensk sandwich from Northern Waters Smokehaus
• Menus. 99%* of the time we have them available for our deli & catering department. You can take them with you or leave them once you’re finished. If you have your smartphone or tablet with you, all of the menus are available on our website. *This is one of  85% of all statistics made up on-the-spot for the purposes of this article.

• Samples. In an ideal world, we have curated samples for you already. In reality, sometimes the line and the long hours have us focused on figuring out what you want and getting it to you in a timely manner. This is your invitation to ask for samples. You have graced our shop with your patronage (or, in other words, waited in a long line to get there), so we would like you to leave with zero surprises about whether you’re getting what you want. With a few exceptions –  mostly frozen goods –  our products are available for sampling. All we ask is that you are respectful of your fellow customers. More on this in the next section, but as always, we are available to help guide the procession.
• Advice. Listen, our shop may be very small, but it can be overwhelming. The staff at NWS will never take for granted that you share our detailed knowledge of our products (shout out to the repeat customers and regulars who do, but there’s no expectation). The sandwich board alone merits hours of analysis (and aesthetic appreciation, shout out again to the phenomenal Flo). Ask us about our favorite sandwiches/deli items, customer favorites, pro-tips, and pairing recommendations. My coworkers and I are not robots, but due to the nature of the work, we often find ourselves repeating actions and phrases throughout the day. When engaged in a friendly manner, we at NWS are among the most thoughtful, funny, and helpful customer service representatives you’ll ever meet, and we love the food we prepare. It bears repeating that we feel for those of you who wait in long lines to experience our amazing products.

Interacting with your fellow customers

Please allow me to editorialize for a minute:
So many of us walk through the world in fear of those around us, or plagued by our own anxieties and problems. Have you ever found yourself feeling lost or alone in a sea of people? Humans are social creatures, yet so much that goes on in the world can isolate us, alienate us, or upset our carefully crafted and protected comfort zones. This isn’t wrong, by any means, but it is sad. Human existence is a strange and beautiful thing, and each person has a unique perspective on the world, yet it can be very easy to allow our joy and wonderment at our environment to become anger and annoyance.
With that said, the best advice I can offer you for surviving the long summer lines at NWS is to engage your fellow customers. Perhaps the person in front of you is ordering a month’s worth of deli items and you only want to order a few sandwiches: ask them if it’s alright to pass them and order. Our staff is used to facilitating these interactions, but we are not always able to. Perhaps you are new to our establishment and the person in front of you is a veteran Smokehauser: ask them if they have any recommendations. Take a look at our Trip Advisor reviews to find that we have passionate and knowledgeable customers. If I know anything about humans, it is that we love to talk about the things we like (guilty as charged: ask me about my favorite music sometime—probably not in the NWS line, although I have occasionally jotted down music recommendations for customers when I thought they would be valued. Maybe I’ll write a future blog post about music culture at NWS. I’ll have to check with my superiors first).
Share your light with your fellow customers, and be a mirror to reflect theirs. We’re all in this together.

Miscellaneous tips

*Have a locally crafted beer with your meal. Our shop can’t sell alcohol, but our neighbors at  Lake Avenue Café have a wonderful bar (a staff favorite post-shift haunt) and a liquor license that extends to the front deck and the tables in the hallway. Get your sandwich wrapped to-go or in a basket (which we trust you will return to us), grab a drink from Lake Avenue Café, and enjoy an exquisite meal in the sunshine of our shared patio.
• Feel as if you have waited long enough in line? Get something from our grab’n’go case and skip the wait for your sandwich, or have the deli staff make you a fish basket, which is typically ready by the time you get to the register. And of course, if lines aren’t your thing, here’s another reminder that you can place delivery and pickup orders online.
• Take it all in. Since we expanded our shop in 2014, we have put a ton of work into making NWS an aesthetically pleasing experience, from the smell and taste of smoked meats, fish and charcuterie, to the visual splendor of the hand-designed sandwich menu, to the serve-yourself nature of a number of our available grocery items, even to the music playing to keep our staff and guests dancing and smiling through the workday.
• Our pickup department has their own door, located in the alleyway between  our building and Duluth Pack. Our phone number is painted on the door next to it, and all you have to do to skip our voice menu and reach the pickup department is press 1. Unfortunately, due to the heavy volume of customers in our shop, if you want to order additional items once you arrive, you’ll have to wait in line. If you find yourself in this position, please refer to our wonderful How to Survive a Summer Line at Northern Waters Smokehaus guide.

If you have any further questions about the best way to experience our shop, I’m not surprised. I have worked at NWS for a few years, and I still learn things about our shop and sandwiches every shift. Just know that we’re happy you’re here for us, and we’ll do our best to be there for you.



P.S. If you noticed the Prince allusions at the beginning of this guide, I love you and you are part of what is right with this world. Try the Purple Range sandwich: A quarter pound of pastrami, cabbage, pepperoncini and red onion on a Crayo-spackled hero roll.