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5 Things: August 16th, 2019

Let’s get right to the meat of this week: There was an enormous rubber duck in town. It spent most of the time deflated, but at least we were graced with its presence, as a part of the Festival of Sail.

A handful of department managers received ServSafe training. In what sounds like an extremely grueling day of collectively leafing through an entire manual on food safety, followed by a comprehensive test on the subject, we hopefully have a slew of new food safety-certified individuals on our staff. We’re not sure yet—test results won’t come back for a few more days—but knowing what I know about my coworkers, I don’t doubt they passed.

Patricia prepared personal pizzas. Pro tip: If you’re interested in trying the latest of her creations, stop into our deli on Wednesday mornings. It seems like she likes to experiment with food on Tuesdays, and everything she makes is either solid gold or extensively gilded.

The latest item, as previously mentioned, is personal pizzas. Made with our own Smoked Bacon, and Hammarlund Nursery heirloom tomatoes, these pizzas are just the right size for one, and they taste great. As I prepare to publish this blog, I have to mention that the pizzas are currently sold out, but don’t worry! This won’t be the last of them.

A variety of pasties are back in stock as of this morning, and the Widmer 2-Year Cheddar Cheesy Crackers will be out later today. Thanks again, Patricia, for all that you do.

We launched a new loyalty program. We’ll still honor completed 10-stamped sandwich cards, and any incomplete sandwich card stamps will be transferrable to the new loyalty card. The way the new system is laid out, you’ll earn a reward (redeemable at your leisure) every six sandwiches/salads you purchase—up to three times per card. We’re calling this program the “Sandwich Lover Extraordinaire.”

Let’s take a look at the new card:

For a more detailed explanation of the new loyalty program, check out this blog post.

We’re hiring!

It always happens this time of year—we say goodbye to students and other seasonal employees, and we’re happy for them and their journeys, but we’re mildly concerned about filling out our schedules.

If any of the descriptions below sound like you, and you’re interested in making competitive wages at a pretty cool place, with pretty cool people, send a résumé to our H.R. champion, Gregory Conley, at greg@nwsmokehaus.com

If you like working alone, at (basically) your own pace, and don’t mind getting a little bit wet, consider applying for our daytime disher position. We’re looking for someone to work daytimes Monday through Friday.

If you’re more people-oriented, and want to work alongside a hardworking team of unique and interesting individuals, we are also hiring in our deli and delivery departments.

Work with the cool kids; send in a résumé!

Finally, we’re running a Labor Day mail order special! 20% off your cart, online only, when you place your order between 8/26 and 9/2, and enter the discount code bluecollar at checkout. Some boring restrictions apply, but you can plan ahead and place your future holiday orders at this discount. It’s either a right-now special or an early-early-bird special, depending on your perspective!

Okay, that’s enough Things™ for now, I’ve got to get to work in the deli.

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NWS HAS A NEW LOYALTY PROGRAM!

Good news, everyone! We’ve finally depleted our inventory of sandwich cards, which means we’ve rolled out our NEW LOYALTY PROGRAM! One free sandwich/salad per ten sandwiches/salads was a pretty sweet deal, but we wanted to shake things up, so we devised a new system to give you more rewards, more frequently.

Introducing the Sandwich Lover Extraordinaire card:

The former sandwich card worked as follows: Each sandwich/salad you purchase earned you one stamp on the card.* Ten stamps earned you one free sandwich/salad.

The new program works as follows: Twenty-one little fish; eighteen red, three blue. Each sandwich/salad you purchase earns you one hole punched red fish. Every six punches along the way, you earn earn the rights to a new prize, which can be redeemed immediately, or at your leisure. When you redeem your reward, we’ll punch a hole in the respective blue fish.

Once you have purchased 18 sandwiches/salads, you’ll have earned all three perks along the way. Maybe you used them as you got them, maybe you redeem all three at once after purchasing that eighteenth sandwich/salad. Maybe you redeem all three at once the next time you come in, or maybe you redeem them individually the next three times you come in. It’s entirely up to you.

We will still honor completed “old” sandwich cards!

If you have filled out a ten-stamped sandwich card during the course of our previous loyalty program, you still get that free sandwich—and the stamps of any incomplete sandwich cards are transferrable to the new loyalty card.

So, what are the prizes?!

After six punches: One free snack stick (“buddy”), based on availability. Whether it’s a Big Jim hatch chile beef stick, a Royale With Cheese bacon-cheeseburger stick, a Smokehaus classic Bison Buddy, or a Smoked Salmon Buddy, you’re in for a treat.

After twelve punches: One free sandwich/salad. We’ve got a handful of options.

After eighteen punches: One free half-pound chunk of Smoked Atlantic Salmon—traditional, cajun, dill, or black pepper & coriander.

Why are you waiting? Start a Sandwich Lover Extraordinaire card today and begin reaping the rewards!

*Sandwich Lab specials—such as the Lake Trout Situation we’re currently running—earn you two punches per unit purchased.

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SANDWICH LAB: The Lake Trout Situation

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


Jacob’s Lake Trout Situation

Like a flavor flash-mob, this sandwich is incoming to shake up your everyday life. 

A minute ago the Smoked Lake Superior Lake Trout was hanging around some lemons and scallions, having an impassioned conversation; but the crispy Smoked Pancetta, wasabi mayo, cucumbers, cilantro and thin-sliced cabbage were just scrolling on their phones, minding their business. Next thing you know, the buttered, toasted, white bread shows up, and suddenly the courtyard (where I imagine this is all happening) comes alive, and onlookers are astounded as these seemingly separate entities come together in a meticulously choreographed song-and-dance.

Meticulously choreographed.

Yes, it has been choreographed, and meticulously. Abs are out and fists are pumping. This Situation of a sandwich required extensive development, but has turned into something quite special. Inspired by the Jersey Shore and classic New England Lobster rolls, with that particular NWS flair, this just might be the smoked lake trout sandwich we’ve been waiting our whole lives for.

Try it during the month of August, and receive not only a scintillating gustatory experience, but two stamps on your sandwich card. This is the cutting-edge of Smokehaus sandwiches. The Lake Trout Situation costs $10 + tax.


WHAT IS SANDWICH LAB?
AT NORTHERN WATERS SMOKEHAUS, OUR WORK IS PLAYING WITH FOOD. THAT MEANS SOMETIMES, IN THE LINE OF DUTY, WE STUMBLE UPON AN AMAZING COMBINATION OF INGREDIENTS THAT EVOLVES OVER SEVERAL SHIFT-MEALS INTO A NOTEWORTHY NEW SANDWICH. OTHER TIMES WE UNCOVER A MORE EFFICIENT WAY TO BUILD A SANDWICH, OR WE SWAP AN INGREDIENT ON A CURRENT MENU ITEM. SANDWICH LAB IS AN ANNUAL GATHERING OF OUR STAFF TO REFINE OUR SANDWICH-LINE SKILLS, TO COME TO AGREEMENT ON ANY CONTROVERSIES, AND—THE BEST PART—TO INTRODUCE OUR PET SANDWICHES TO THE GREATER SMOKEHAUS COMMUNITY.
NOTABLE SANDWICH LAB FINDINGS FROM PREVIOUS YEARS INCLUDE THE CEDARS’S SECRET, THE PURPLE RANGE, THE PHOEBE, AND THE PORK LION. LAST YEAR’S SANDWICH LAB HAD SO MANY GOOD SANDWICHES THAT WE COULDN’T DECIDE ON JUST ONE OR TWO TO ADD TO THE MENU, SO WE DECIDED TO GIVE THEM ALL A CHANCE TO SHINE, AS MONTH-LONG SPECIALS.
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5 Things: August 2nd, 2019

Welcome back to 5 Things™. It’s been a lovely week in town, with a handful of conferences at the DECC keeping our lunch rushes busy. If you find yourself with a bit of a wait for your lunch today (Friday), Jacob will be out on the patio selling beer. What better way to enjoy your pre-sandwich time than an ice-cold regional beer?

Now, to the Things™—

First of all, I am sorry that the first week of the Summer Scavenger Hunt ended so quickly. The first round lasted about four hours. I really thought the hiding spot—tucked behind foliage on a fence-post at the Observation Dog Park—was more difficult. This coming Monday (August 5th), I will do better.

This was a practice round.

We have a new wine in the deli. The late-Spring flavor of vinho verde is leaving our shelves to make room for Trollinger, a wine by Andi Knauss, a German winemaker associated with a collective of natural winemakers known as La Boutanche. Trollinger is a versatile table wine named after the grapes it’s made of, which have moderate acidity and tend to produce light-bodied wines with strawberry, cherry, nutmeg, and smoky notes. It’s available by the glass for $7 and by the (1 liter!) bottle for $42.

If you’re into wine, you’re definitely going to want to see the wine profile project our media team has been working on. Here are a few of the images they created:

As part of our ongoing cookbook project, we tested a few recipes at Wisconsin Point on Tuesday.

While the day began with some prep and packing of gear, things really got started once we hit the beach, when we dug a trench, found a couple of large-but-portable logs to mount our grates, and set driftwood ablaze en masse, until we had enough coals to shovel into the trench.

The first recipe was a grilled summer vegetable salad with a light soy sauce and mirin dressing. I’m talking about beautifully charred and caramelized kale, broccoli, zucchini, portobello mushrooms, summer squash, fennel, and sweet corn, tossed with a simple, high-impact dressing.

Coarse-chopped gremolata gave an herbaceous, citrus-infused flavor to the tender river trout meat.

Once the veggies were finished, we grilled a grip of Cedar Island Hatchery brown and rainbow trout, stuffed with a zesty coarse-chopped gremolata, and later topped with puréed gremolata, for aesthetic as well as flavor reasons.

Our hausmade sausages look fantastic cooked over a beach fire too.

Italian-style sausage, Classic German sausage, smoked Andouille sausage, and smoked Polish sausage—in concentrated powder form.

All of this cooking was done with a couple of simple grill grates, over coals from a fire made entirely of driftwood found at the beach. A few lessons solidified during this field trip—you don’t need a ton of fancy equipment to make a high-caliber meal, and cooking is always better with good company.

The Fish Schtick enters its final weekend. Maybe it’s just the time of the year, but the Fish Schtick has been selling like crazy. Combining the salty, smoky goodness of our Traditional Atlantic Salmon with sweet & tangy Cornichon pickles, tomato, lemon pepper, lettuce, and a swipe of mayo on a hausmade ciabatta, this sandwich is a flavor palette to reckon with, and people are loving it.

We’ve got a situation incoming. A Lake Trout Situation. Jacob’s Lake Trout Situation, to be specific. Inspired by a New England Lobster Roll, this is the Sandwich Lab creation for the month of August.

Smoked Lake Superior Lake Trout salad, crispy Smoked Pancetta, cucumber, wasabi mayo, cilantro, and thin-sliced cabbage will come together and make a scene atop buttered and toasted hausmade white bread.

Like the Fish Schtick, and the other Sandwich Lab creations, this flavor bomb will also earn you two stamps on your sandwich card.

Me waking up from cookbook stress dreams.

That’s the way the news goes this week. There’s a whole bunch of events in-town this weekend, including the City on the Hill Music Festival, a biking festival, Spirit Valley Days, and the opening celebration for Casket Quarry Park in Spirit Valley. The forecast is looking great, with sunny days above 70-degrees all weekend. If you want your NWS fix, but feel like surpassing the line, place a pickup order (online, or over the phone at (218)724-7307 (ext. 1)) or catch us via delivery through Food Dudes or Bite Squad.

Next time you’re in the area, please enjoy Flo’s steady takeover of the wall space around and within our deli.
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5 Things: July 26th, 2019

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.

For more information about All Pints North, follow that hyperlink.

We’ll be serving beer on our patio.

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?

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5 Things: July 19th, 2019

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.

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5 Things: July 12th, 2019

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.

We’re really glad you all like us so much.

We love you forever!

See you next time on 5 Things™.

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SANDWICH LAB: The Fish Schtick

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


The Fish Schtick

Remember fish sticks? Breaded some-kind-of-whitefish, fried, frozen, reheated (perhaps in a microwave, or for the more patient among us, in the oven) and dipped in tartar sauce. Simple, delicious, nostalgic.

I sure do. I ate so many of those things in my youth that I had to take an extended break from fish.

Now imagine that experience, but more sophisticated, and with 100-percent less burnout. That’s what we’re channeling with The Fish Schtick.

Mayonnaise, lemon pepper, tomato, cornichon pickles, and lettuce on a Haus ciabatta roll form the flavor-framework of this sandwich, and our brown sugar-brined and perfectly-smoked Traditional Atlantic Salmon fills out the body.

It’s not deep-fried and it doesn’t come from a bag in your freezer, but it still hits like a blast from the past, and that’s the way Harrison (the sandwich’s inventor) planned it.

Beginning on Wednesday, July 3rd and running through Monday, August 5th, the Fish Schtick will be available for your consumption, and I strongly recommend you jump on this opportunity. Not only is this sandwich surprisingly delicious, but each one earns you two stamps on your loyalty card.


WHAT IS SANDWICH LAB?
AT NORTHERN WATERS SMOKEHAUS, OUR WORK IS PLAYING WITH FOOD. THAT MEANS SOMETIMES, IN THE LINE OF DUTY, WE STUMBLE UPON AN AMAZING COMBINATION OF INGREDIENTS THAT EVOLVES OVER SEVERAL SHIFT-MEALS INTO A NOTEWORTHY NEW SANDWICH. OTHER TIMES WE UNCOVER A MORE EFFICIENT WAY TO BUILD A SANDWICH, OR WE SWAP AN INGREDIENT ON A CURRENT MENU ITEM. SANDWICH LAB IS AN ANNUAL GATHERING OF OUR STAFF TO REFINE OUR SANDWICH-LINE SKILLS, TO COME TO AGREEMENT ON ANY CONTROVERSIES, AND—THE BEST PART—TO INTRODUCE OUR PET SANDWICHES TO THE GREATER SMOKEHAUS COMMUNITY.
NOTABLE SANDWICH LAB FINDINGS FROM PREVIOUS YEARS INCLUDE THE CEDARS’S SECRET, THE PURPLE RANGE, THE PHOEBE, AND THE PORK LION. LAST YEAR’S SANDWICH LAB HAD SO MANY GOOD SANDWICHES THAT WE COULDN’T DECIDE ON JUST ONE OR TWO TO ADD TO THE MENU, SO WE DECIDED TO GIVE THEM ALL A CHANCE TO SHINE, AS MONTH-LONG SPECIALS.
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5 Things: June 28th, 2019

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

Photo by Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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5 Things: June 21st, 2019

Brace yourselves!

It’s Grandma’s Marathon weekend.

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

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

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

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

With that said—

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

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

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

Download or keep a tab open of that map here.

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

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

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

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


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