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'94 WINTER OLYMPICS / LILLEHAMMER : DATELINE / LILLEHAMMER : At This Bar, Money Goes Down the Drain

February 26, 1994|MIKE KUPPER

LILLEHAMMER, Norway — Got a tiny thirst?

Drop into Cafe Rorlegger'n, pull up a toilet seat and have a beer.

Careful, don't knock that pipe wrench onto somebody's head. And try not to mess up that nice faucet display. This place isn't going to be a bar forever, you know.

In fact, Cafe Rorlegger'n has been a bar for only a little over a month. And come April 1, it will go back to being a plumbing-supplies shop.

Carl Roger Rud is one of several local businessmen who saw money to be made on the Olympics and jumped at the chance.

"I knew I wanted to open a bar during the Olympics but a friend told me to do it here, in the shop," he said.

So Rud's plumbing shop became a bar--Cafe Rorlegger'n loosely translates to Plumber's Bar--on Jan. 15 and has been doing a booming business ever since, serving beer, soda, coffee and sandwiches from early morning till long into the night. You can recognize it by the water heater in the snowbank outside.

The place was full at 10:30 in the morning the other day. Tourists and locals were mingling there, chatting over beer and sandwiches, watching the women's biathlon on TV. A lot of them were cheering, too. Never see that in the States.

If you decide to visit, though, you won't really be able to park yourself on a convenient toilet seat, since regular bar stools are in use. But if you look up from the bar, there is a lovely selection of commode covers hanging there. And on the walls are tasteful displays incorporating faucets, shower assemblies, sinks, pumps, towel racks, TP holders and other plumbing needs. An old-timey looking bathroom is set behind glass and galvanized buckets serve as lampshades. Lengths of PVC pipe in various sizes rest on ceiling racks.

Rud has help--a manager and several bartenders--but is beginning to look forward to the day everything gets back to normal. He is running the plumbing business out of the basement and garage--he lives over the store--and taking his daily shift behind the bar as well.

In fact, he has been working so hard, he doesn't even know for sure if he's making money. But he has a pretty good idea that he is.

"Business is going very good," he said. "I am glad I did it."

So are his thirsty customers.

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