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Published November 07, 2009, 12:00 AM

Big on brew, not space

Tiny JL Beers brings big-city pub feel to downtown Fargo
A new eatery will be serving up burgers, beers and fresh-cut chips Monday morning in downtown Fargo.

A new eatery will be serving up burgers, beers and fresh-cut chips Monday morning in downtown Fargo.

JL Beers and Great American Burgers, 518 1st Ave. N., is being launched by Fargo entrepreneurs Warren Ackley and Randy Thorson.

Cosmetically drenched in chrome, aluminum, stainless steel and neon lights, the compact 13-foot-7-inch wide, 1,000-square-foot restaurant offers barstool seating for 24 people, 32 tap beers, 33 bottled import beers, 13 domestic can beers, non-alcoholic beers and sodas, five types of burgers, chips and fries, said Ackley.

Beer is king, available in all sizes from “flights” (containing six, 4-ounce glasses) to 24 ounce bottles, 64-ounce growlers, on- and off-sale beer only, said Ackley, noting that no other wines or liquors will be offered.

The restaurant will employ about 23 full- and part-time employees and be open from 10:30 a.m. to 2 a.m., seven days a week, Ackley said. Dan Vogel has been named general manager.

Take-out of all menu items will be available. “You can also get a can of beer to go,” said Ackley.

Thorson and Ackley purchased the building, which also houses First & Deli Restaurant, about a year ago.

“The space dictated what we could do,” said Ackley. “It’s a small space, but we’re big on beers. We think we can do fine in this size space.”

Ackley said there are no plans at this time to expand the layout of the downtown location.

“This is the first of what could be more to come,” he said.

“The idea behind it was to set it up to duplicate it,” said Thorson.

Similar-styled restaurants have become popular in larger cities around the country, Ackley said.

“We thought it would work in downtown Fargo,” he said.

“I think it’s just going to be a really neat addition to downtown Fargo,” said Dave Anderson, president of the Downtown Community Partnership.

“It has the feel that you just stepped from New York or Chicago into Fargo,” he said. “I’m really anxious to see how people are going to react to it. I think it’s going to be a really big hit.”

The restaurant’s logo is a tribute to late friend Jim Lauerman and the former downtown restaurant that bore his name, said Thorson.

“We were friends with Jim. We sat many nights having some beers and talking about everything, right up until his death,” Thorson said.

Thorson and Ackley bought the former Jim Lauerman’s Chili, Sandwiches and Beer, 64 Broadway, with plans of reopening a restaurant. Instead, they sold the property that now houses The Flag/AM1100 radio station.

To reach JL Beers, call (701) 492-3377.

Readers can reach Forum Business Editor Craig McEwen at (701) 241-5502