Business is built on burgers and beers

JL Beers 4col
Franchise co-owner John Glockner stands by the tap at the JL Beers restaurant in northeast Minneapolis. Glockner and his partners are opening a second location in Burnsville. (Photo by John Gessner)

JL Beers coming to County Road 42

Franchise co-owner John Glockner says fresh chicken strips will be added to the menu at the new JL Beers restaurant in Burnsville.

But don’t let that throw you. Burgers and beers are the backbone of this business.

“It’s fresh burgers, fresh-cut fries, fresh-cut chips,” Glockner said. “We have 40 taps of craft beer. And then we have some taps of craft soda, also. Pretty simple menu.”

After opening their first JL Beers last year in northeast Minneapolis, Glockner and his partners are launching a second in the former Carpet King retail building at 1230 County Road 42. It’s near the new Starbucks and Chick-fil-A locations on the site of the old Champps restaurant at 42 and Burnhaven Drive.

The location is something of a homecoming for Glockner, who grew up in Burnsville (where his parents still live), lives in Eagan and graduated from St. Thomas Academy in 1982.

When the partners learned the Carpet King building would be vacated this summer, they jumped. Renovation of the 4,000-square-foot leased space is underway, and opening is set for the first or second week of November, Glockner said.

“Burnsville’s important to me just because I grew up in Burnsville and I know this area very well, and I know that County Road 42 is just a tremendously busy road,” he said. “I just felt this location was a perfect spot for us for site No. 2.”

Glockner, who studied hotel-restaurant management in college, worked 23 years for Patio Town, 15 as vice president, before going into the restaurant business. His partners are Mike Wright, a high school buddy who owns five Famous Dave’s restaurants, and Ted Coulter, who operates them. Wright also co-owns the JL Beers in Sioux Falls, S.D.

The trio are the first franchise group of JL Beers, founded in 2009 in Fargo, N.D. Other company locations are in Bismarck, Grand Forks and Moorhead, Minn.

The burgers, a dozen varieties strong, have garnered positive Twin Cities press since the partners opened in April 2014 at University Avenue Northeast and 1st Avenue Northeast.

Beers include regional craft favorites such as Surly and northeast Minneapolis brands Insight, Indeed and 612, Glockner said.

“Everybody we hire, we don’t call them bartenders, we call them ‘beertenders,’ ” he said. “We have an extensive training program for everybody to really know beer knowledge.”

A JL Beers phone app informs customers exactly what’s on tap that day.

“It’s not the same type of beer constantly,” said Glockner, a suds enthusiast himself. “We’re rotating our taplines constantly.”

Look for a small selection of more commercial names as well.

“We’re not beer snobs, where we look down at people that want to have their Coors Light,” Glockner said.

The restaurant will seat about 110, with a 20-seat patio. The Burnsville decor will match the brick interior of the Minneapolis location, Glockner said. Hours are 11 a.m. to midnight.

“We’re also a family-friendly place,” he said. “We’re not a bar. We’re really a restaurant that has a great selection of craft beers.”