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5 things – volume 9

5 Things – Volume 9

Here’s some stuff that occurred this past week at The Smokehaus. In chronological order this time:

#1. Sunday night Staff Meeting! We crammed ourselves into the common area of our small office. We ran down the agenda, we chatted and laughed. No shortage of laughter in this place. Then the newbies got their height marked on the wall. It’s tradition. And it’s a mirror into the past of all the beautiful humans that have made their mark (hehe) on the Smokehaus in years past.

 

#2. Order Up! So…. There’s been some confusion. When sandwiches are shouted out to shop patrons they are set under a sign that once read “Pickup.” This was, however, not where one would pick up an order they called in to our Pickup department. Pickup patrons can conveniently skip the line and our Pickup staff will bring your order right out to you in the alley way on the North side of the building. That all makes sense, right?! ☺ So, we think our new signage might help alleviate some of the confusion… what do you think? More custom lettering by the one and only Flo.

 

#3. The titan among sandwiches is released on the nation. It’s been a long time coming, but as we dipped our toes into the trending world of Sandwich Kits it was only natural that our best-selling sandwich be one of the competitors. You can read more about how this sandwich came into being in this post. If you ever find yourself staring longingly in the direction of the Smokehaus, you know how to bring it home now. Get ‘yer Cajun Finns sent to your doorstep.

#4. PIXIES! A favorite band for at least 2 Smokehausers (Mary and Nick C), the Pixies were in St Paul this week and Steve-man, Mary, Greg, and Jeremy all went down to see them. They were awesome! They played everything from Caribou to Motorway to Roswell. After the show, we headed to a bar around the corner and were utterly amazed to see Black Francis and Joey Santiago in the next booth over. Magic!

 

#5. Birthdays and a tweet. A few fine folks celebrated birthdays this week including Eric, Jeremy, Jacob, and Ned. If you’re a local you probably know and love them. Plus extra love from the fine peeps behind the Homegrown twitter handle. Well that was nice! Thanks @dhgmf

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5 things – volume 8

5 Things: Volume 8

Hi people of the internet. Here’s 5 things that happened at the Smokehaus and our beloved Restaurant this week.

chicken sandwich

#1. Specials!
We perfected the new Wednesday special up on Woodland Ave (Northern Waters Restaurant). Our new fried chicken sammy is to die for! Things that may or may not be featured on this special: buttermilk brined, hays-tenderized chicken breast, Franks hot sauce, cracker breading, local brioche buns from Lake Superior Bakehouse, Smokehaus bacon, avocado, top secret spice blend and/or a rotating mix of toppings for new and delicious creations every week. Every Wednesday!

gourds

#2. Fall Decor
Our shop is pretty cute, but there’s always room for more cuteness! Hannah brought in a few gourds to decorate the shop and help us feel ok about summer being over. Hopefully she brings in a snowman when winter hits… (did you know the record low for December in Duluth is -27 degrees?)

hockey skates

#3. Is anyone missing a pair of hockey skates?
A random box showed up the other day. Its labeling was pretty unclear, it was addressed to us, but it had multiple labels and we were a little hesitant to open it. But our curiosity always gets the better of us. Turns out it was hockey skates, belonging to someone who has really small feet and no connection to the Smokehaus. Weeeeiiiird. Needless to say, we had to discuss this event and all its infinite possibilities for several minutes that day….

wall of boxes

#4. Holiday Season looms over us like a wall of boxes (literally).
October means we’re gearing up for Mail Order’s peak Holiday Season which happens every December. For three glorious and also insane weeks our Mail Order elves work nearly round the clock to make food, package food, and ship food to thousands of customers around the country. Fun fact: after Minnesota, California is where we sent the most boxes to last year. Hello West Coast! So… this week a new seasonal employee started in our Mail Order dept – welcome Zac! He’s the first of many elves who will be joining the team to pack, pack, pack their little hearts out. During peak time, it’s one person’s job just to make boxes – not kidding.

5 things gooseberry jam

#5. The perks of being an employee of the Smokehaus.
When there’s leftover food, employee’s enjoy. This week folks in the shop spread layers and layers of Mary’s dreamy gooseberry jam on our Hausmade rye. Mary’s recipe uses five-spice. You know how she does.

Post was co-created by Stephen Pestalozzi.

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Cajun Finn – The Inside Story

The humble beginnings of a Titan among sandwiches

The Cajun Finn is our most popular sandwich by far – we outsell our second most popular sandwich (The Cold Turkey) by nearly double the amount of Cajun Finns. Invented early on in our deli life – around 2004 – the sandwich began as many of recipes did – with the help of customers and the use of ingredients that happened to be around.

Regular customer, dream pop superstar, and all around cool guy Al Sparhawk happened to be in the shop to purchase his favorite at the time, Smoked Atlantic Cajun Salmon. Eric asked if Al wanted to try a sandwich, and Al and Eric basically improvised until they came up with a fairly cohesive mish-mash of the ingredients we had for the purpose of experimentation, including pepperoncini (Eric had a huge hot pepper faze), roasted red peppers (because ripe tomato season is too damn short in Northeast MN), and wild leek cream cheese (I wish we could still make this, but we’d have to hire a team of licensed foragers to bag up an airplane-hanger’s worth every season to keep up with demand).  A sprinkling of greens and a freshly-baked stirato later and before you could say “The Great Destroyer” a wonderful sandwich was born.

Variations on the sandwich have included double cream cheese, no cream cheese/add mustard, add bison pastrami (Affectionately called “The Big Diaper”) and of course the celebrated jean jacket – adding Sriracha and cilantro. But the original recipe, invented on the fly to please a regular, is still a peppery, smoky, sweet, and spicy sandwich that is hard to beat.

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5 Things – Volume 7

Keeping the fire alive – Volume 7!

 

1 / A Really Fishy Photo! We took this photo of our traditional smoked salmon and we think it’s pretty neat! Mmmmm…Hold up while we break for a snack…

2 / Catering Extravaganzas  1: Sue is the owner of the Hemlock Preserve in Esko and we catered her daughters wedding last Saturday. It was crazy humid in the barn but we managed to work fast and pull through for a feast of epic proportions. Photo recap!

2: On Sunday we went to the Oldenberg House in Carlton for a wedding showcase. Food was served, food was eaten and we all had a blast! This historic building is right on the edge of Jay Cooke State Park and is lined with an abundance of rock formations, greenery and other natural goodies to take your breath away. Check them out for bed and breakfast services, special events, jazz dinners, live music, and much more. Thanks for having us!

3 / Restaurant Bits & Bites 

1. We are running an Heirloom tomato and chèvre salad special with fruits from the tomato growing experts over at Hammarlund. I overheard them talking to Eric (The Owner) about the different varieties of tomatoes and the flavor differences. The green striped ones are the all around favorite, the yellow ones are fruitier + sweeter and the dark red ones are kind of like a roma, but with more flavor. We running this with honey-dressed Boucheron chèvre, a balsamic reduction, and Maldon salt flake. Stop in and try one before it’s gone!

2. We have a new side! This couscous salad is delicious and beautiful.

4 / Basement Anthems The delivery and prep department needs music to stay sane. The work they do is incredibly fast paced, super detailed, and downright chaotic. They add to this insanity by BLASTING their music at full volume with no remorse for any nearby ears. In fact, they recently upgraded their stereo system by pooling tips because the old one wasn’t loud enough. Kudos on the teamwork y’all! This week it just so happened that Propagandhi’s new album dropped and it has been on repeat ever since. I asked Jeremy for a few words about it and his response was “Can I say it’s f***ing rippin’?”

5 / Insider Tip!  There were three employee wedding anniversaries this week! On the 27th, Stephen and Robin celebrated their 3 year and Woody and Kiah celebrated their 1 year. On the 28th Mary and Greg celebrated their 7 year! Many more to come, but don’t worry, we won’t post about them next year….. <3

 

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5 Things Volume 5

Volume 5 – Les Sgo!

#1 / Boot in the Barn was a success! The folks came, The cooks cooked and the staff worked really hard. We are really proud of everyone involved!

#2 / Beer in hand – Sandwich in Mouth The Cedar lounge is one of our favorites places to catch a drink and relax. Starting this week you will find ultra fancy, co-branded menus throughout the establishment! That’s right, you can order a sandwich straight to your bar stool at the Cedar Lounge. We think you’ll love the way our sandwiches taste with a cold one.

#3 / The Future Holds New… Photographs! Our creative crew (Stephen & Flo) took a trip to Mary’s (GM) house to scout locations for our new product photos. The abundance of trinkets, textures and materials was inspiring and we can’t wait to get cracking on this dream project.

#4 / Happy Mistakes Our restaurant (Northern Waters Restaurant) makes ice cream from scratch. But what do you get when you burn the base for this sweet treat? Cream Brûlée ice cream! It’s quickly becoming one of our favorite flavors, although the curry is pretty dang tasty…. Nothing like a good happy mistake!

#5 / Our Bread’s First Voyage Our Baker Jerry has been cranking out loaf after loaf of his delicious rye bread for our deli and we are loving it! Although the loaves are living the good life in Canal Park I could tell they were feeling a little antsy and longed for a bigger taste of the world. Low and behold they took the grand voyage to Woodland Ave. and became a permanent addition to our restaurant’s Reuben (The Thursday and sometimes Friday special). This sandwich is truly a legend in the making and now it’s one step closer.

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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.