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Dave Olson, Published September 11 2007

Last call for Lauerman’s on Broadway

When Chris Hanson moved to Fargo seven years ago, one of the first bars he set foot in was Jim Lauerman’s Chili, Sandwiches & Beer on Broadway.

Lauerman’s dimly lit, old-time décor struck a chord with the freelance musician and it became the spot Hanson always picked when he had band business to conduct.

Now he’s looking for a change of venue.

Early Sunday, the watering hole known for serving beer in a schooner you could float a softball in closed up for good.

A message found taped to the front door Monday read:

“After 25 years in business, Jim Lauerman’s bar has closed it(s) door as of Sept. 9, 2007.

“The Lauerman family would like to thank all of our customers for their patronage! Wally, Mike and Kristen Lauerman,” the note concluded.

Hanson, for one, will miss the bar.

“There’s just a lot of character in it. I love the way it was built, with all the wood.

“The employees were awesome, too,” Hanson said. “It’s not like when you go into a real busy bar and they get your order and that’s it.

“The people, to me, felt like people,” Hanson said.

Founder Jim Lauerman opened the bar at 64 Broadway in 1982.

When he died in 2004, family members took over the business.

They included his daughter Greta, and two sons, Mike and Wally.

Jim Lauerman’s No. 2 Saloon, at 2410 Great Northern Drive in Fargo, closed in 2005 after 11 years of operation.

At the time, Greta Lauerman said the family was taking the step so it could concentrate on its downtown business.

On Monday, Greta Lauerman said she and her siblings respected the hard work their father and mother, Brenna, put into the bar, but they decided it was time to do something different.

“We needed to follow our own dreams,” she said.

Spider Johnke, owner of Spider & Co., was among the first to meet Jim Lauerman when Lauerman moved to Fargo from Long Beach, Calif.

Johnke said Lauerman, who had worked in oil fields and served in Vietnam, established a true neighborhood bar.

“The second time you came in, they knew what your drink was,” Johnke said.

The bar’s closing creates one more empty downtown storefront, leaving next-door-neighbor Broadway Subs something of an island.

Fargo Deputy City Auditor Sharon Plecity said Monday the city has not been contacted regarding Lauerman’s liquor license.

Unless a new operator applies for the license, it will automatically terminate if:

- There is no sale of alcohol for a period of 30 consecutive business days.

- If alcohol is not sold on at least 15 of any 60 consecutive business days.

- If the business is not open for at least 180 hours over the course of 60 consecutive business days.

The city charges an initial fee of $25,000 for the Class I license

Lauerman’s holds, Plecity said.

Readers reminisce about Lauerman’s

Contributors to an online chat on The Forum’s Web site, www.inforum.com, expressed mostly sadness at the news that Jim Lauerman’s had closed.

A few of the comments:

- “Where else will I get a delicious pickled egg?”

– Briana A.

- “I won’t miss the pickled eggs, but I will miss almost everything else about Lauerman’s.” – N.P.

- “It is a sad day for downtown Fargo. Lauerman’s has served as a social setting for generations.” – Matt S.

- “Oh, what memories … frosty goblets, delicious chili, intense games of Frogger.”

– Karen M.

- “Now where will I go for a quiet drink at a large wooden, circular table?”

– hamfist

- “Too bad I can’t get a farewell schooner or four. I’m going to miss that place.”

– Travis W.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Olson at (701) 241-5555