DULUTH – The winding line through the DeWitt-Seitz Building was long a hallmark of the Northern Waters Smokehaus experience. Now it's just a memory.

The Canal Park deli won't be reopening its small indoor storefront even as pandemic restrictions wind down. Instead it is installing windows for outdoor ordering and pickup after expanding the production area to turn out its famed sandwiches faster.

"We have people coming from far away for sandwiches," said marketing director Flo Matamoros. "We don't want people spending most of their time in Duluth standing in line."

With wait times that could top an hour, Matamoros said the line could be disruptive for the other shops and eateries in DeWitt-Seitz. And people with smaller orders may have been discouraged.

"We want to be able to provide fantastic customer service, regardless if your order is one bison buddy or 10 sandwiches," Matamoros said. "I'm guessing it will be hard news for people who have only experienced us as a deli" with the display cases full of house-smoked fish and cured meats, "but we will again have a front-facing customer experience. We really missed talking about our food with people."

The plan came together amid the pandemic and a close look at "the next stage of the Smokehaus experience."

"We are so thankful that we've outgrown our space," Matamoros said. "We're hoping our new model is accessible to all but also pandemic-proof. If we've learned anything from this COVID-19 year it was that accessibility to all has to be on the forefront."

Northern Waters' deck and pickup area has been remodeled to offer more outdoor seating, and the recently reopened Lakewalk will provide some seating options.

Until the windows are installed — with a goal of sometime in July — Northern Waters is taking orders only online and by phone.

Brooks Johnson • 218-491-6496