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Dave Olson, Published July 10 2013

JL Beers signs franchise agreement, heads for Twin Cities

FARGO – The Fargo-Moorhead area’s first JL Beers was the launching point Tuesday for a major expansion of the brand.

Mike Wright, who heads a Minneapolis-based company called FABAB NE, put pen to paper and signed a franchise agreement he and the originators of JL Beers hope will be just the first of many such arrangements.

Randy Thorson, who developed JL Beers with business partners Warren Ackley and Lance Thorson, said franchising will enhance the growth of the company and potentially take it nationwide.

Wright expects the buzz will be substantial when he opens his first JL Beers in north Minneapolis this fall, with more stores expected to follow.

“Social media helped out significantly in other JL Beers areas, we’ll do that as well,” Wright said, adding: “The beauty of it is, when people come in and experience what JL Beers is, I think they’re really going to find it’s a great spot.”

Area expansion

The first JL Beers opened in November 2009 at 518 1st Ave. N. in downtown Fargo.

There now are stores in Fargo, West Fargo, Bismarck and Grand Forks in North Dakota, as well as in Moorhead and Sioux Falls, S.D.

Another Fargo location is planned for south Fargo by this fall, and another Sioux Falls store is scheduled to open early next year.

Wright, whose business interests include a number of Famous Dave’s restau-rants, said he has known Randy Thorson for about 10 years and he was on hand when the first JL Beers opened.

“I’ve followed their success as they opened several stores in multiple states, and I decided to be the first franchisee,” Wright said after signing the business papers Tuesday.

JL Beers is known for its hamburgers, fresh-cut chips and fries and the wide variety of beer kept on tap.

It’s also known for its small restaurant footprint and its slogan: “Seating for 1,000 … 47 at a time.”

With the birth of the JL Beers franchise, Ackley said the slogan might be tweaked a bit:

“Now, we’re going to franchise 1,000 franchisees, one at a time,” Ackley said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Dave Olson at (701) 241-5555