Happy Friday the 13th, everyone. Duluth has been either raining or cold and dreary all week, and it shows no signs of letting up. EatingWell magazine dropped by for a follow-up photo shoot for an interview with Eric, and caught some iconic Duluth weather—a little bit of Mother Nature’s drama to frame our products. And this weekend we’re heading down to the Metro area to showcase our wares for Classic Provisions.
School is back in session! Duluth’s semi-permanent student population has entrenched itself, just as the final pushes of midweek tourism have come to a close. In honor of the students, and as an easy solution for the parents and guardians still hoping to send love and support, we’ve come up with the Study Buddy gift box. Fuel those late night night study sessions with a six-pack of select snack sticks, hausmade cheddar crackers, and haus-seasoned cheese curds.
The first week of September was supposed to see the launch of our final Sandwich Lab 2019 special, the G.O.A.T., but we’ve decided to push it back until the end of September to improve our options for locally-sourced apples. The G.O.A.T. is toasted strips of Smoked Andouille Sausage, creamy chèvre, apple slices, and lettuce, on a toasted Lake Superior Bakehouse bagel.
We have a cute merchandise area in our deli. This isn’t necessarily new, but it just might be newsworthy. Our storefront changes all the time, and our inedible swag often goes unnoticed. For those without the luxury of seeing the merch stand in-person, here’s our growing merch page on our website.
5 of our top 7 best-selling sandwiches are fish sandwiches. The official ranking, at the time of writing is:
#1 Cajun Finn #2 Cold Turkey #3 Northern Bagel #4 Sitka Sushi #5 Great Summer Caper #6 Pastrami Mommy #7 Slammin’ Gordon
This probably merits a closer look, for an in-depth analysis of our fish sandwiches next week.
Summer isn’t over yet, but the morning air is crisper, and the pace of life is slowing down. The tall ships have come and gone, the flood of students is just beginning to trickle into town. Walking past our deli, it may not always appear this way, but life is on the calmer side, at least for a few weeks.
But that doesn’t mean life at the Smokehaus is any less interesting.
We have new faces in the deli.
For those keeping score, over the past few weeks we’ve steadily mentioned that we’re hiring, and as a result, we already have a handful of new staff training in. I’d caution the world to be patient with and/or kind to them, since they are new and the pace of our little deli can be overwhelming, but they’re already performing like seasoned veterans.
Labor Day Mail Order Sale.
Beginning August 26th, we’re running a mail order special: 20% off your cart (online only) when you enter the discount code bluecollar. The sale runs through Labor Day (9/2). However, if you want your food to arrive in time for Labor Day weekend celebrations, place your order by Tuesday, August 27th—those orders will be shipped on Wednesday (8/28) and arrive by Friday (8/30). Otherwise, you can schedule your shipping date for whenever you’d like. Pro-tip: this is the best mail order sale of the year, so if you know exactly what you want to order for Fall and Winter holidays, this is a good time to do it.
Bookmark this page as an easy reference when ordering for holidays, and you’ll be guaranteed to get your orders at the perfect interval for gifting or entertaining. Become the master of your own destiny; know for yourself exactly when to place orders, and when to have them shipped for best results.
Monday night D&D returns to The Midnight Axe.
The Summer season of our unofficial office Dungeons and Dragons crew is coming to a close with a short adventure tying us back into our ongoing campaign, right before our DM heads on an extended vacation, leaving us to fend for ourselves.
This Summer, we set our main campaign to the side, in order to focus on a handful of smaller, unconnected adventures. Not only did this allow each of us to test out a number of character ideas, and novel settings, but it also gave us time to miss our main characters, as distance does indeed make the heart grow fonder.
“The Midnight Axe” is the name—generated by rolling percentile dice against a chart of fantasy party names—of our primary party. When we’re not embroiled in a scavenger hunt for a cache of money embezzled long ago from the treasury of the Manhattan-esque city of Waterdeep, and avoiding/averting the frequent pitfalls of gangs whose rivalry we earned incidentally, we’re just trying to earn a mostly-honest living running a tavern called The Malt Solstice. However, some way or another, we’ve gained some notoriety as adventurers—and it’s drawn some public interest.
In our session on Monday, Harrison (our Dungeon Master) presented each of us with three characters (shout out to Harrison for developing fifteen character concepts in a single weekend) who are looking, for one reason or another, to join our ranks. This coming session, we’ll be embarking on a mission with our chosen secondary characters to discover their strengths, and how they’ll fit into our adventuring party. Perhaps they’ll join us on the front lines, perhaps they’ll stick around headquarters and craft potions nonstop, perhaps they’ll alternate between venturing into the Undermountain (where our campaign has us heading) and providing security at the Malt Solstice. Only time will tell.
Character biographies forthcoming.
Let’s get one thing straight: Any week that there are not five immediately obvious other Things™ to talk about, Patricia is going to get a nod. Ever since she moved to full-time baking, we’ve become accustomed to carrying an assortment of cookies—chocolate chip, ginger, peanut butter curry, carrot cake cookie sandwiches with honey cream cheese, coconut macaroons (which are gluten-free*), and most recently chocolate walnut flourless cookies (also gluten-free**)—pasties, cheddar crackers, savory scones, and even personal pizzas. This week’s pizza featured smoked bacon, blackberries, and chèvre, and her pizza sauce, in general, is composed of the odds-and-ends bits of tomato from the morning’s prep.
That’s honestly one of the best things about Patricia’s approach to baking for NWS—by utilizing more parts of the foods we use, we generate substantially less waste as a business, which improves our model of sustainability (not to mention profitability) overall, and in the process, we end up with these delicious, fan-favorite items in our deli
*/**: It’s worth noting that these are not baked in a completely gluten-free environment. In terms of ingredients, they are entirely gluten-free, but those at serious risk should be aware of the chance of cross-contamination.
I got to observe production of Country Pâté.
Compiling recipes for the cookbook is great fun, but not without its challenges. In addition to needing to massively scale down some recipes—we’re operating under the assumption you’ll never need to make one-hundred pounds of Smoked Whitefish at home—other recipes in our own workbooks lack, well, instruction.
Country pâté, for example, is just a list of ingredients, which our skilled production crew understands how to massage—eh, grind—into the savory loaves we all love. Brandt happened to catch me during a fresh air break yesterday to let me know he was making it.
Seeing that static list of ingredients—browned bacon and onion; Berkshire liver, pork and back fat; brandy; cure; rosemary and thyme; etc.—ground once and then half again (to achieve the preferred inconsistent consistency), mixed with what could reasonably pass as TLC, and packaged to chill overnight before being packed into loaf pans and slow-cooked, was enlightening, and proof that someone needs to write down those steps, because there’s a lot of them. If not for our own benefit, certainly for the book.
Once again, I’d like to give a public shout-out to the smokers for the sheer volume of high-quality product they consistently churn out.
I’ve done it again. Yesterday, I stared at my week’s notes and wondered, “which five Things™ am I going to write about? Are there five Things™ that may intrigue or inspire our readership(?),” and here I am, writing Thing™ six-and-a-half. I hope you’re happy.
We hope to see you in our deli this weekend—whether you wait in line, or skip the line via pickup —or your name and address in our delivery system. If you’re going to be near Canal Park/Downtown, make sure you bring ear protection, because the Tribute Fest will be rocking hard.
Stay tuned in the next handful of weeks for some new sandwich options—including your blogger’s own contribution to the Sandwich Lab specials—and exciting collaborations.
There’s a whole bunch of things going on at the tip of Lake Superior this weekend. Before I get into discussing the week and weekend to come, I’d like to remind you that our pickup and delivery services are a great way to skip the line (except August 11th through 13th), and that Cajun-seasoned cheese curds are back in-stock in our grab & go case.
The Festival of Sail arrives this weekend. The tall ships and an enormous rubber duck will begin showing up today, and will remain in our harbor through Tuesday, August 13th. The Festival officially kicks off on Sunday morning, with a grand parade from 9-11 a.m. In previous years, the draw of this event has effectively doubled the population of our city. And that’s not the only festival taking place this weekend. Friday and Saturday, the 31st annual Bayfront Blues Festival will take up residence in—you guessed it—Bayfront Festival Park. The Blues Fest draws around twenty thousand attendees each year, and consistently features high-caliber blues artists from around the world.
Another Sandwich Lab creation debuted in our deli. The Lake Trout Situation is Jacob’s homage to the classic New England lobster roll and the Jersey Shore. Featuring a smoky, sweet lake trout salad, sliced red cabbage, and wasabi mayo atop a slice of buttery, toasted white bread, this sandwich is served open-faced (for hotdog-style consumption) and garnished with cilantro and crispy smoked pancetta crumbles. It’s available for $10+tax in our deli & via delivery.
The Scavenger Hunt continues. The first week, a participant found the magnet within hours—next to the Observation Park dog park. This week, it was found on the second day—on the back of a sign at the Duluth Farmer’s Market. With three weeks to go, and 7 superfluous clues written so far, I have something special planned for next week, so stay on your toes. The next clue comes out on Monday, August 12th. Follow us on our socialmediapages and check out the rules here to participate.
Patricia is at it again! This time with vegetarian tofu pasties, in addition to her standard array of cookies, crackers, and pasties. Our baking department, which also boasts two skilled breadmakers in Jerry and Adison (whom I don’t praise enough on this blog, as they have supplied all of our rye, white bread, and ciabatta needs through the Summer), have developed a brilliant selection of high-quality hausmade breads and sweets. I don’t ever want to go back to a world before the Smokehaus had dedicated bakers on-staff.
We’re having a fish fry! The summer season is hardly coming to a close, but we’re already starting to say goodbye to the seasonal hands on deck, and a handful of other coworkers/friends leaving for school, adventures in new cities, and at least one dream job opportunity. So we’re taking an evening to celebrate, this Sunday, with a small gathering for our staff. Fried whitefish, smoked chicken wings, coleslaw, and crinkle-cut fries are on the menu, and my mouth is already watering two days in advance. Hopefully, the Sunday closing staff will be able to make it out of Canal Park! The deli will be open normal hours—10 a.m. to 6 p.m.—on Sunday.
Now that you’ve read this week’s 5 Things™, go out and have a good rest of your day.
We had a big weekend (7/19-7/21), and we didn’t run out of anything we planned on having in-stock.
That’s all. We have evidently found our stride. As always, if you’d like to ensure we have what you’re looking for, give us a call before you stop in @ (218)724-7307. You can even place a pick-up order, then skip the line when you arrive.
The D&D Summer Season.
While our epic, levels one-through-twenty—for the uninitiated, that is all the levels—campaign is on hold through the summer, it doesn’t mean we haven’t been rolling dice and speaking in funny voices. With new characters and varying levels of seriousness, we have taken to a ghostly sea as a cohort of debt collectors-become-zombie-hunters, taken up arms as an elite unit of kobolds to punish another group of kobolds for their crimes against the Dragon Queen, Tiamat—namely stealing magical artifacts from the Queen’s hoard—by stealing powerful magical artifacts from the Queen’s hoard, and a handful of other brief adventures to come, before we return to our dubious heroes’ adventures in Waterdeep.
Good cheese weekend.
Taylor, our resident cheese connoisseur, announced at our morning meeting that this is a great weekend for cheese lovers at the Smokehaus. Primarily, it’s the Comté (or Gruyère de Comté) that just arrived at our deli. The flavor of this semi-soft, unpasteurized cow’s milk cheese from the Franche-Comté region of France is heavily influenced by the natural pastures and strenuous guidelines for a cheese to carry the name.
My personal favorite cheese that we’ve ever carried, Shepherd’s Way’s Sogn Tomme, will also be a regular fixture in our grab and go case until at least the end of summer. It’s a buttery and crumbly sheep’s milk cheese, with a slightly higher fat content, and it is too good for mere words when drizzled with local honey and decorated with a blueberry, if that sounds good, but slightly lacking, put that combo on top of a cracker and add a bite of smoked salmon to the mix.
A number of other great cheeses are in-stock as well, including Marieke Young Gouda and Carr Valley Apple Smoked Cheddar.
Our current cheese selection has even me, a lactose intolerant individual, drooling.
All Pints North this weekend.
More than 120 MN breweries gather at this enormous Bayfront Festival Park gathering each year, and attendees make their way through the offerings two ounces at a time. Lovers of beer travel hundreds of miles to attend this event (which is listed on the website as “Sold Out”), so expect a busy weekend in Canal Park and downtown, with ancillary events at local breweries and restaurants all weekend.
In honor of All Pints North, and our newly minted selection of adult beverages, Eric Goerdt himself will be slinging beers on our patio today (Friday) from noon until sometime after noon—weather permitting—to try to cater to the influx of beer enthusiasts and test out the viability of “refilling” beverages on the deck. Hopefully no one has to wait in a summer Smokehaus line just to grab another beer.
Next week on 5 Things™: It’s August! Whoa! Where did the summer go?
We’re in the dog days of summer—or we might not be—and life at NWS is heating up. Our first Thing™ offers an option for cooling down:
We’ve got White Claw!
I still haven’t tried it*, but this low-calorie, gluten-free, slightly boozy seltzer water has become iconic of Summer 2019. One-hundred percent of planned beach expeditions I have attended this year have featured a cooler half full of White Claw cans. It’s reported to be refreshing and taste quite good. I may or may not have “liked” a meme featuring a can of Hidden Valley Ranch White Claw this morning on the ‘Gram.
We received our first shipment of Grapefruit White Claw this week. Lightly-flavored effervescent beverages (affectionately known as “day beers”) are a longtime staple of life at NWS—a former deli manager once challenged herself to drink twelve cans of LaCroix in a shift, and the grapefruit and lime varieties of Topo Chico sparkling water have become a fast favorite for staff and patrons alike—so it follows quite naturally that our early forays into hard beverages would include what I am now exclusively calling “nighttime day beers” in my head.
*By the time this blog is posted, I may have consumed at least one can of White Claw.**
**Leif and I drank our first nighttime day beers together on the patio after work.
Heirloom tomato season is in full effect!
Every July, we purchase a beautiful bounty of locally-grown heirloom tomatoes from Hammarlund Nursery in Esko, MN. Ken Hammarlund himself brings us dozens of pounds of these delectable tomatoes in weekly increments when the season is in full-swing.
These ‘matos are not only exceptional on the palate, but also come in beautiful colors—bright greens, yellows, and purples, and swirls of all three—so they are remarkably pleasant to prep for the day.
If you’ve ever been on-the-fence about sandwiches with tomatoes, July into the first few weeks of August is a great time to try them.
Waiting for your order on the patio is easier than ever!
We love our small storefront and our home in DeWitt-Seitz Marketplace, but it’s not without its shortcomings. The hallway we share with Lake Avenue Café can become crowded whenever the sandwich queue is even a little backed up.
“Stick around. We’ll call your name when your food is ready,” was essentially the script. Those who wanted to establish themselves at a table on the patio were also given the annoying task of periodically sending an emissary inside to check on the status of their food.
But this has all changed now that we have added a public address system to our patio. We’ll default to calling out names un-amplified in the deli, but if no one comes running, we’ll double-down on the PA.
Grab that spot outside, catch some extra rays of sunshine, experience a bit of leisure while we make your order.
A little bit of Smokehaus lore.
Research and development for our first cookbook has provided a wellspring of insights into the growth of the Smokehaus. A bunch of these tidbits will make their way into the pages of the book, and some of them are going to pop into the 5 Things™ blog now and again.
During a rapid-fire meeting Tuesday morning on our patio, the topic of our salmon seasonings came up. Dill is a no-brainer when it comes to salmon, and a blend of black pepper and coriander bears a strong resemblance to another popular preparation of meat, but what of cajun seasoning?
Our cajun-seasoned smoked Atlantic salmon is a fairly popular item of its own, but unless you arrived at this web address accidentally and have no idea how you got here or how to navigate away from this page, you have probably heard of the Cajun Finn. The sandwich that outsells half of the rest of our menu. 40% of the sentence “I’ll have a Cajun Finn,” which is sometimes 40% of all words said by an individual ordering as part of a group.
Cajun-seasoned smoked salmon, it turns out, was an experiment with a current trend that ended up wildly successful.
Paraphrasing Eric: “People were putting cajun seasoning on everything, so we tried the same thing with smoked salmon, and people loved it.”
That’s a pretty wild innovation to just stumble into, and serendipitous. Who knows where the Smokehaus would be without the cult success of the Cajun Finn? I like to imagine the excellent quality of our food would have carried us to similar heights, but it’s impossible to say.
Two new product features on our blog!
They put me to work this week—alongside work on the cookbook, a handful of press releases, and some updates of our online swag descriptions, I also whipped up a couple of posts about our selection of natural wines with suggested food pairings, and an often overlooked menu item, the fish basket. Since you’re already here, think about checking them out.
5 Things™ is back from vacation. I had the best steak of my life (please pound your steaks thin and marinate them overnight before you ever consider cooking them), my very first experience with escargot, watched a Chicago-sized storm cloud travel over Chicago from a balcony at the epicenter of the cloudburst, and even got a wicked sunburn at a crowded beach, but didn’t manage to churn out a blog. Hopefully you just went about your lives and didn’t miss it too much.
Here’s a handful of things that I’ve learned about life at NWS since I’ve returned.
Andy has stepped into his role as Mail Order director.
I already knew about this one, but you may not have. Shipping our hand-crafted products around the nation is part of the foundation of our business, but the department has been without a leader for a couple months. In practice, perhaps you didn’t even notice, due to our staff’s ability to fill in the gaps.
We interviewed several candidates within our existing staff, and selected Andy to guide the future of this department. Training in as the director of this massive endeavor—December is one of our most profitable months, and that is in large part due to mail order—is no small, short, or easy task, so we wish Andy the best.
Tyler has evolved into his delivery/pickup assistant manager-form.
Tyler, who once told me he didn’t want any responsibility beyond being a good dishwasher—I’m paraphrasing—has now taken on more responsibility, seemingly of his own accord.
The delivery/pickup department, which has been going through its own evolution lately—simultaneously contracting its in-haus delivery hours and range, and expanding its hours and range through third-party delivery services Food Dudes and Bite Squad—welcomes Tyler’s affable leadership.
The Fish Schtick.
“Sandwich Lab” may be one of the most-oft repeated phrases in my blogging life. This month’s Sandwich Lab special (temporary addition to the sandwich menu) is a curious sandwich called the Fish Schtick.
Assembled on a haus ciabatta roll, it is composed of Traditional Smoked Atlantic Salmon, tomato, cornichon pickle, lettuce, mayo, and lemon pepper. It has a bright, complex, yet cohesive harmony of flavors tied together by the smoky goodness of our salmon.
The Fish Schtick accounts for about 2% of our sandwich sales during its time on the menu, which is nothing to shake a schtick at.
The months ahead will feature a Lake Superior Lake Trout-salad sandwich, and a smoked Andouille sausage, chevre, and green apple sandwich. Stay hungry, because all of these Sandwich Lab specials get you two stamps on your sandwich card. Now that’s value!
We have the hardest working production crew in town!
Okay, this may not be strictly true—I didn’t do any research—but hear me out: I checked in with our team of roughly five smokers about their life in the basement, and found out that they’ve been putting in hours—working double shifts, sometimes triples, and the occasional overnight—but that was only after some prying on my part.
Their first answer to my inquiry about life in the basement: “It’s pretty chill!”
How’s that for a winning attitude? This is the energy we need to take with us into the rest of 2019.
We had a span of 11 days that would have blown my mind when I started at NWS.
And I was on vacation the whole time.
When I began working at our humble deli, there was tangible excitement any time our daily sales were above $5,000. I’m pretty sure $9,000 in sales would have merited a pizza party, popping Champagne corks (or vigorously-shaken LaCroix cans), and maybe even some light screaming.
While I was out of town, our average daily sales were closing in on $10,000, even on days that we closed early, due to holidays and our Sunday hours. For eleven days.
So many Things™ this week, so little time to discuss them.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
This week on 5 Things™, we delve into the surprising success of a new side, the never-ending fluctuations of our deli’s interior, the timely return of a classic piece of NWS swag (and what NWS swag can do for you), some comings-and-goings, and previews of what’s to come from our Sandwich Lab and our shop in-general.
Kale caesar salad.
You likely already have an inkling that NWS is good at smoking fish and other meats. You probably also know that we’ve garnered some acclaim for our sandwiches. You might even know that we have a smartly curated selection of olives and local cheeses. You might not know that we regularly introduce new side options to our menu. While some of them hide behind the sandwich line and signs on our menu board, we’ve begun displaying others in the deli case, next to our smoked meat selection.
It has paid off. Not only do our sides taste great, they are also aesthetically pleasing. Being able to see them (and buy them in whatever weight quantity you choose) helps sell them—meaning you’ll continue to see them. To that end, we’ll continue stocking the meat case with our tried-and-true and latest sides, as well as pasties and pre-sliced/pre-packaged meats.
This week we tested a roasted kale caesar salad, and sold it all within the day. Which pleases me, because the salad is good, and I want it to stick around. Don’t believe me? Try it.
Sass aside, if you ask, you can definitely try it.
A shortened wall.
If you’ve been following us for the last half-decade,you’ll have an idea what I mean when I say the shop is always in flux. For example, when I started at NWS, our workspace was literally half the size it is now, and the line ran the opposite direction. Working at NWS is at times reminiscent of a game of Tetris or Jenga—constant rotation and reconfiguration and treacherous pulling and replacing.
The wall between our seating area and the sandwich line is an important boundary. Watching us work really isn’t the best use of anyone’s time—many of us are self-conscious individuals, who work less efficiently when observed, and you don’t really want to be watched while you eat, do you?
Joking aside, the barrier does have one glaring limitation—it is very tall. When it was first installed, I called it the “Wilson Wall.”
So Oneida, ahead of schedule (thank your local Oneida employee for their steadfast work immediately), cut down a segment of the wall and moved the counter top down with it. This means patrons and staff under 5’7″ will finally be able to make eye contact and just generally communicate when handing out and picking up orders.
As with many small changes we make to our workspace, the benefits may not be immediately obvious—force of habit has made me place orders on the higher segment of counter even with the lowered counter in place—but over the Summer, this will undoubtedly result in a smoother interface when picking up your food.
With the impending arrival of beer and wine, there is more reconfiguration to come. Nothing too world shattering, though you might notice some different stainless steel and glass making its way into the shop over the next month or so.
Kenspeckle Letterpress shirts went to print.
These shirts are great. They showcase the brilliant, meticulous, and clever work of local printmaking legend Rick Allen, whose studio (the aforementioned Kenspeckle Letterpress) is located on the second floor of the DeWitt-Seitz Marketplace, and for whose dedication to the Split-finger Fastball variant of the Clubhaus sandwich we are forever grateful.
On Thursday, our friends at On The Limit, let us know that they had begun printing the shirts. That means that, soon enough, these shirts will be available in all sizes, on softer, more breathable cotton.
Speaking of NWS swag: If you’re spotted (or if you politely point out to us) wearing our gear/carrying our totes/etc., you’ll get 10% off your order. Every. Single. Time.
The Wallaby leaves us.
Our first-ever avocado sandwich, which came to us via our annual Sandwich Lab, is entering its last weekend.
If you haven’t yet tried this avocado, lemon pepper, balsamic, locally-sourced ramps, and tomato sandwich, on our hausmade Prince Myshkin Rye, this weekend is your last chance. If you’re feeling a bit more carnivorous, try it with crispy smoked pancetta.
When the Wallaby leaves us, another Sandwich Lab special takes its place: The Sebu-Chan.
The name comes from a nickname for its creator, Sebastian, and the sandwich is a playful variation on the classic salmon & cream cheese sandwich.
The Sebu-Chan—gravlax, scallion cream cheese, tomato, cucumber, onion, lettuce, cilantro and sriracha on a hausmade ciabatta—will be available Monday, June 3rd through Sunday, June 30th.
A few things I’m looking forward to at NWS.
I tried to fit a few different Things™ in this slot, but came up short each time. So, in lieu of anything better, here’s a short list of things that I’m looking forward to in my own personal life at Northern Waters Smokehaus, that might also be interesting to you:
The Cookbook. It’s happening, and though the public will have to wait some time before it is in their hands, a good deal of my near future is set to be entangled with the text.
Another Hemlock Preserve event. The first time I was involved with a Smokehaus event at Hemlock Preserve—the charming barn on the edge of Jay Cooke State Park in Esko, MN—I played music for five hours, essentially nonstop. It was a strange feat that I don’t know I could repeat. I’m not sure how involved I will be with the event, but I will certainly have some words to write about it as it draws nearer. The event is still in development, but based on previous experience, it will happen toward the end of Summer, feature an awesome menu, good music, and an optional party bus to get to and from the location.
Grilling NWS brats & sausages. Our Maple Breakfast Sausage is my favorite sausage, period, but that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m not sure whether the Beer Brat (made with Grain Belt Premium), Apple Brat or Classic German Brat is my top choice for the grill, but I will say that white onion (raw, grilled, or sautéed), NWS Kimchi and Sauerkraut are great toppings respectively. We’ve got Jalapeño Bacon Brats and Italian Sausage too, for those seeking a bit more bite in their brat. Tucked away in a corner, these products often go unnoticed. The time to grill is nigh. Don’t sleep on these sausages.
Honorable mention to our Smoked Ribs. They’re back in stock, available weekly as our Monday special, and great for any BYO grilling events or potlucks. Or just as any ol’ meal. $10.99/lb in 2 lb racks or half-racks for these beauties is a steal!
Northern Waters Catering. Though we’ve been at the catering business quite a while, this year we’ve really decided to get our act together, putting in a lot of creative work, developing an extensive menu that showcases our best abilities and depth, making an Instagram profile specifically for our catering department, and putting Hannah’s capable hands in charge of the operation. I love catering events because they showcase different shades of NWS not found in the deli, both in terms of food served and the service offered. It’s a bit more refined, and less of a grind. It’s a breath of fresh air, reminiscent of a childhood field trip, traveling to an offsite location and not making six to eight sandwiches per ten minute increment. And the catering pay rate is great for the staff. My Nintendo Switch isn’t paying for its own games, so I am into that.
More Sandwich Lab specials. With fun official and working titles like Jacob’s Lake Trout Situation, The Perfect Fall Sandwich, and The Fish Stick, they’ve clearly got a lot to offer the imagination, and it’ll be a satisfying mystery to resolve once you can finally taste them. And honestly, the ads our marketing team has been creating for them get more fun every month.
Well, I think I’ve said quite enough. Happy Friday, or whichever day you might be reading this.