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Published December 31 2010

JL Beers expands to West Fargo

Inside and out, the new JL Beers in West Fargo looks as if it were plucked straight from downtown Fargo and planted in an open lot at 810 13th Ave. E. – a tan brick exterior, a long, slender profile, and even a soon-to-be-installed (and purely decorative) fire escape.

“We wanted a downtown feel,” said Lance Thorson, one of the owners of both locations. “We’ve had a great response downtown.”

The expansion, which opens at 11 a.m. today, is the first for the teeming First Avenue brew-and-burger-joint, which opened in Fargo in November 2009. Thorson said the growth of West Fargo and the opportunity to move into an area that’s already bustling with four other bars within walking distance made the move attractive.

And JL Beers may not be done growing: Without saying where, Thorson said the owners – himself, father Randy Thorson, brother Shawn Thorson, and business partner Warren Ackley – are considering locations “in a few other spots.”

At first blush, the West Fargo location is virtually indistinguishable from its predecessor, from the high aluminum stools in front of the bar to the vast selection of beers behind it. But there are a handful of subtle differences – four new flat-screen televisions, 32 parking spots and eight more beers on tap for a total of 40. And though it may not look it, the new building is quite a bit more spacious than the old one, seating 49 rather than 24.

It’s still “an intimate feel,” Thorson said. “When you come in, you’re around people.”

The new beer additions, along with a variety of bottled beers, bring the total menu to around 100 offerings. Those range from regional products like Summit to craft beers from around the country. The food menu – a selection of burgers, fries, and homemade chips – is largely unchanged, with the exception of a new “Buffalo Blu” chip topping that combines wing sauce and bleu cheese.

Unlike the downtown Fargo location, the West Fargo JL Beers has a full liquor license. Thorson said the bar has no current plans to offer anything other than beer.

Nate Wolf, a transplant from the downtown location, is the general manager of the new site. Wolf, who wasn’t yet on board when the first bar opened last year, said he’s excited to help launch the second.

“It’s a great spot, it’s a great building, it’s great beer,” he said.

While weather will likely factor into the opening-weekend turnout, Thorson said he’s heard positive buzz building around the opening.

“From what we’ve heard from the community, they’re excited to have something in their backyard,” he said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Marino Eccher at (701) 241-5502