OMC Smokehouse Opens Back Up For Online Pre-Orders

On the first day open, the restaurant received 200 online orders.

DULUTH, Minn.- Amid the many local restaurants forced to close under Governor Tim Walz’s Executive Order, OMC Smokehouse in Lincoln Park decided to get cooking again, doing takeout in an unconventional way for them.

The restaurant opened up to online pre-orders only on Saturday, with food prepped and ready 5-10 mins before scheduled pickup.

“I’ve been doing this 40 years, and this is a first for me,” said co-owner Tom Hanson. “Stick around long enough, you get to see everything.”

They hope to do a couple more days next week, he said, as well as “brunch-in-a-box” at Duluth Grill weekend mornings. They plan to do only 2-3 day increments to ensure the food is as fresh as possible.

“This is just reinventing the blueprints, re-writing all the blueprints for running a restaurant,” said Hanson, who also owns Duluth Grill and Corktown Deli and Brews. “So we’re learning how to do it, like everybody else.”

So once again the savory smell of smoked ribs, chicken, and beef waft over West Superior Street.

“We got some chicken and some cinnamon rolls,” customer Reilly Moore said.

Meanwhile the sounds of crinkling brown paper bags and employees calling for orders fills the restaurant interior. Orderly chaos, as OMC pumped out about 200 online orders on the first day.

“To know we’ve got this much support for kind of a very spontaneous little pop-up we did,” said Hanson. “And we’re coming back, we’re fighting back, and we’re going to do it so that the food is great and people love it.”

Accessing the online menu to order has been easy enough for some customers. “So easy. My daughter did it,” Chris Benson said.

Not only does he love the food, he loves the rest, after cooking for a houseful for such a long time.

“My family’s doing a great job of cooking,” said Benson, “but it sure is fun to have high quality, local Duluth food that makes us–tonight we’re going to have a celebration.”

While they are more than happy to keep this up, Hanson said, it won’t be a big help business-wise–since all the rest of their operations are shut down, and they can only have a handful of young employees working the online orders.

“Every little bit will help,” he said. “It’ll probably be around 10% of our normal sales if we do it multiple times a week. Maybe 5% of our sales.”

However, it still means a lot to the customers who love the food, and love shopping local.

“A lot of restaurants are closed trying to keep going, so it’s nice to do a little bit for them, especially the local ones,” said Moore. “It’s a little piece of joy, I guess. Take it home, enjoy a nice, good meal with your friends, family, whoever you’re stuck with.”

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