Four months ago, Mike Stanwood was close to having to give up on the Uptown Deli and Cheese House.
The building on Laurel Street that housed his Deli was in terrible shape, and trying to keep up with repairs was tiring Stanwood and his wife, Kathee.
Thanks to a loan from his bank for the purchase of a different building, the Stanwoods were able to move the Uptown Deli and Cheese House this past December into a new location on South Eighth Street, and recreate their business the way they wanted it.
Stanwood couldn't be happier about the move, which allows him to seat four times more customers and expand his menu.
The menu features many gourmet foods unique to his deli, including homemade cakes made from family recipes, homemade jams, syrups, sausages, 40 different types of deli sandwiches and a soup bar with eight different kinds of soup each day. He also sells cheese and wild rice packages to be used as gifts.
Along with food, customers can also purchase Stanwood's wood crafts, which is part of the Country Collector Gifts. These include hand carved wooden loons, bears and moose, as well as authentic boundary water birch bark canoes carved by Leech Lake Indians and wild rice and pottery.
On Monday he plans to start opening at 7 a.m. to accommodate a morning crowd; serving coffee, latte, cappuccino as well as bagels, caramel roles and other confections.
Kathee works at the deli designing and creating wedding cakes, a chore Stanwood said takes up her whole week. The Stanwoods also run a catering business out of the deli.
Stanwood first got into cooking in 1969 in the Navy and used the skills he learned there to land a job managing two different Hickory Farms stores in the Twin Cities area.
In 1975 he decided to start his own deli, and moved to Pequot Lakes and opened a little store. In 1976 he made his final move to Brainerd.
Not only does he have a newly expanded restaurant, but customers can now buy his and Kathee's food and crafts on the Internet. At his mail-order site, www.MinnesotaWildRice.com, customers can page through 35 pages of gifts and can order everything offered at the Uptown deli and Cheese House except for Kathee's wedding cakes.
Stanwood takes orders on the Internet from all over the world, as far away as New Zealand. When it comes to explaining the popularity of his products, he said he uses only family recipes for his food and sells only crafts with a Minnesota theme. That way he can offer his customers something they can't get anywhere else.
"We try to think of exclusive themes for our products that you can't get anywhere else," he said. "We want everything to be unique."
The Internet also provides Stanwood with one of his hobbies -- creating and registering Web site names, such as www.MinnesotaWildRice.com. He got the idea after attending a computer convention four years ago. Since that time, he said he has created and registered about 500 names, most of them common-sounding web site names such as www.LoonArt.com, and www.MinnesotaLakeHomes.com.
When it comes to having a popular site, Stanwood said the name a person chooses for the address is the most important aspect initially.
"Everything is in the name," he said. "If you don't have a well known name, it won't work as a web site."
Stanwood works about 20 hours a week on his Internet interests, and he uses the rest of his time working in the deli. It's exactly where he wants things to be, and with the exception of the catering business and his web site, he said he won't be expanding the deli or moving to another site in the future.
"The deli is in its final place," he said.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.