JL Beers to open March 30

Posted March 24th by SC Times

The wait is nearly over for Central Minne- sotans eager to try a new downtown St. Cloud burger joint. Fargo-based JL Beers is scheduled to open March 30. “We will be open seven days a week from 11 a.m. until midnight,” JL Beers co-owner Lance Thorson said. 

Remodeling on the new JL Beers location, 801 St. Germain St., of the over 100-year-old building. “We’ve replaced the plumbing, the roof and the HVAC system,” Thorson said. “The interior finishes are nice and we maintained the integrity of the building so it can last another 100 years.” 

Thorson said JL Beers is known for its burgers, fresh cut fries and chips, all made to order just behind the bar. Signature burgers include The Humpty Dumpty Burger (a burger with a fried egg and cheese on top), the JLapeno (with diced jalapenos, a jalapeno ranch sauce, jalapeno cheddar seasoning, pepper jack cheese and bacon) and the Mt. Mushmore (sauteed mushrooms, Swiss cheese and teriyaki sauce). One burger on each JL Beers menu — the bacon, cheese and barbecue sauce burger — is named after the street the restaurant is located on. For St. Cloud, this burger is the St. Germain Street Burger. 

JL Beers also provides patrons with 40 different types of beers on tap, including craft beer. “We have a lot of new breweries first on tap here,” Thorson said. Thorson said there is a free mobile app available in Apple’s App Store or in Android’s Google’s Play store that customers can download to keep up on the latest brews on tap. 

“We are really proud to be a part of the downtown (St. Cloud) community,” Thorson said. “There are a lot of great people and a lot of great business owners here.” JL Beers employs 40 people at its St. Cloud location. This is the 13th JL Beers in the company’s franchise and the fourth location in Minnesota behind Moorhead, Burnsville and northeast Minneapolis. JL Beers also has restaurants in North Dakota and South Dakota.

Building has had many uses since 1872

Posted Feb. 12th by SC Times

Lance Thorson and I walked through the dust created by his construction crew as it hustled to finish renovating the 144-year-old Vossberg Block, 801 St. Germain St. Working his way around the remodelers, Thorson, the new co-owner, led me on a three-story tour of the ongoing project.

In mid-March the historic building will become Fargo, North Dakota-based JL Beers bar and restaurant. Roers Construction is doing the heavy work.

In the past six years Thorson, and his partners have restored historic buildings in Fargo and Bismarck, North Dakota, and Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The Vossberg Block will be home to their 13th JL Beers location.

The original name of the building comes from Berhard (Barney) Vossberg, who was born in 1840 in Hanover, Germany. After his family arrived in the United States in 1854, they settled in West Point, Iowa. Barney’s father was an oboe-maker, a shoemaker and a tanner. In Iowa, he practiced the boot and shoemaker’s craft.

Barney — the only son — spent less than a year in school. After his father’s death, he moved his mother and four sisters to St. Cloud in 1858. For six years, Barney kept books for Joseph Broker’s general store.

In 1864, Vossberg married Josephine Schroeder. The couple had nine children. In 1864, the popular citizen was elected to the office of county auditor — the beginning of his 41-year career at that post. Vossberg also served on the City Council and school board before his death in 1916.

On Feb. 22, 1872, the St. Cloud Journal-Press noted that Vossberg had hired local architect Allen E. Hussey to build a brick structure for use as a grocery store and upstairs’ rental space at the corner of St. Germain and Hanover Avenue — now Eighth Avenue. Soon after, the building began its exclusive career as a saloon and restaurant.

The Vossberg Block’s facade faces St. Germain. A 72-foot side wall runs along Eighth Avenue. A late-19th and early-20th local material — yellow brick — was used for interior and exterior walls. Thorson has re-exposed the interior brick and will keep the original brick furnace as a conversation piece in the basement office.

A new plate glass store front, 12 period-appropriate windows on the first and second floors, and use of recycled floor joists for interior trim, doors and wall paneling show a sensitive contemporary interpretation of a local treasure.

Designed originally as Commercial Victorian in style, the structure’s surface still contains subtle details that reflect its medieval roots, including castle-inspired ornamental brickwork on front and side walls. The arched openings on Eighth Avenue are a fanciful touch as well as a testament to the level of work practiced by local masons.

Hussey also designed neighboring buildings at 803 and 805 St. Germain. The red-brick 1883 McClure Building and the 1886 D. B. Searle Building on Fifth Avenue reveal Hussey’s mature work. One critic called the architect “the best storefront designer in the state during the 1880s and 1890s.”

During its long history, several colorful local people have owned the bar at 801 St. Germain St.

On Feb. 9, 1935, the St. Cloud Times reported that owners Harry Brauch and Mathew Uberecken had remodeled the saloon by adding a rear annex for lunch business, installing a new floor, and decorating the bar area. “The lunch business was continued during the arid years (of Prohibition), and have now restored it, in accordance with law, as a restaurant, and have added ample facilities to make it a popular lunching place,” the paper said.

On Feb. 2, 1937, according to the St. Cloud Times, Brauch and Uberecken celebrated 25 years in business by offering free drinks (“German cheer”) on one night. “As long as there has been a city of St. Cloud,” the newspaper said, “a saloon has been operated at the corner near the courthouse, where many residents of Stearns County have been wont to refresh themselves before the trip home. That habit in many families has not failed for more than 70 years … Even in the Prohibition days the boys drank malt to wash down the limburger cheese, beef and sausage sandwiches with rye bread which have given the place hundreds of patrons over many years.”

During the 1960s, the well-known baseball player Eldon J. “Rip” Repulski operated the corner bar. The Sauk Rapids native spent 16 years in professional baseball with nine seasons as a major league outfielder with the St. Louis Cardinals, Philadelphia Phillies, Los Angeles Dodgers and the Boston Red Sox. Repulski was named to the 1956 National League All-Star team and was a member of the Dodgers when they beat the White Sox in the 1959 World Series. During his major league career, Rip hit more than 100 home runs. He retired with a lifetime batting average of .276.

When JL Beers moves into the Vossberg Block it will specialize in award-winning hamburgers, fries, chips and beer. Open from 11 a.m. to midnight, seven days a week, JL Beers will serve 40 beers on tap.

Restoration of the Vossberg Block — one of 28 downtown restorations in the past 12 years — is another success story in the ongoing work that has made downtown St. Cloud an urban showcase. Work is underway to nominate the Vossberg Block to the National Register of Historic Places. That designation would lock in the building’s place in local architectural history.

This is the opinion of Bill Morgan, an architectural historian and St. Cloud State University professor emeritus. He can be reached by email at wtmorgan@stcloudstate.edu.

Owners and changes at 801 St. Germain St.

• 1872: Vossberg Block erected.
• 1877: Frank Bettenburg General Store operates there.
• 1886: Doerner Bros. operates there.
• 1887: Vossberg erects a new glass front.
• 1913: H.P. Brauch, Adam Fischer and H. Damm are owners.
• 1916: Harry Brauch and Mathias Uberecken operate The Fountain Bar.
• 1945: Business now known as Uberecken’s Bar. Brauch died in 1938.
• 1952: Peter Doran is owner.
• 1954: Cy Brick is owner.
• 1959: Known as Wildeman’s.
• 1963: Eldon J. “Rip” Repulski is owner.
• 1969: Alley Eight Tavern operates there.
• 1972: Butch’s Bar operates there.
• 1973: Reggie’s operates there.
• 1974: Vacant after fire started by arsonist.
• 1975: Site of All-American Lounge, operated by Tom Rau and Bob Eveslage.
• 1992: Monte B’s opens upstairs.
• 1996: Penny Kempenich runs Penny’s on Germain.
• 1998-2015: Building is site of Landmark Tavern.
• 2015: Lance Thorson, Randy Thorson and Warren Ackley prepare to open JL Beers (based in Fargo, North Dakota).