Critically-Acclaimed Counter Casual Eatery 'Dirt' to Open at Ballston Exchange

Images:  Mojalvo

Images: Mojalvo

Celebrated Miami-based counter casual eatery DIRT has announced that it will be opening its first location outside Miami in Ballston, VA Wednesday, April 17th - within the highly anticipated Ballston Exchange from Jamestown LP. DIRT Ballston is located at 4121 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 102B, Arlington, VA 22203, and will be open 7 days a week Monday through Friday 7:00am to 10:00pm, and Saturday and Sunday 8:00am to 9:00pm.

Following visits to various parts of Washington, D.C. and the greater DMV area, DIRT Co-Founder Jeff LaTulippe noticed quickly that Ballston encompassed a unique and rapidly expanding community, one that DIRT could call home and grow with. LaTulippe and Director of Operations JJ McDaniel were immediately attracted to the energy of the neighborhood. Ballston is an active area that fits DIRT perfectly, and the duo has aggressively connected creatively with the local community including collaborations with celebrated artisans such as 3 Stars Brewing Company, Call Your Mother (Bagels), Ice Cream Jubilee, Little Wild Things Farm, Logan’s Sausage, Pluma by Bluebird Bakery, Port City Brewing, Trickling Springs Creamery, True Made Foods, ANXO Cidery, Craft Kombucha, Alchemist Coffee Company, Hummingbird Farms, Sticky Fingers, Grace Street Coffee, amongst others, as well as notable neighboring gyms and boutique fitness studios located within close proximity including OneLife Fitness, Gold’s Gym, Orange Theory, VIDA Fitness, Ballston CrossFit, and Bash Boxing, to name a few. Furthermore, LaTulippe and McDaniel felt that DIRT would be the perfect complement to their neighbors CAVA, Shake Shack, and Philz Coffee, three concepts they have admired from afar.

Featuring a variety of breakfast dishes and toasts (both served all day), salads, bowls, plates, smoothies, juices, vegan “mylkshakes”, pastries, and a full espresso bar and tea program, DIRT is an inclusive concept that offers something for everyone: omnivores, vegans, vegetarians, gluten-free diners, or those who are simply seeking delicious, high-quality food.

“DIRT was borne out of necessity,” says Jeff LaTulippe. “Having overcome my own personal weight loss struggles, it was important to me to create a menu that was more than just kale and quinoa and grilled chicken. We wanted to strike the right balance of ‘health-conscious’ and ‘delicious’ at any time of day, an all-day restaurant that wasn't solely focused on salads and bowls, but could offer a variety and keep the dining experience fun and enjoyable. We couldn't find a place like this, so we created it.

“The menu was designed with flexibility in mind, so you can be really healthy if you’d like, but you can also indulge and feel good about what you’re putting in your body. We’re naturally very ‘vegetable-focused’, but we also offer many sustainable proteins, including grass-fed steak, ASC-certified salmon, wild-caught tuna, FreeBird antibiotic-free chicken, and cage-free eggs. One of the best-selling items on our menu since the day we opened is our DIRTy Steak + Cheese sandwich, our take on a Philly cheesesteak, made with grass-fed steak, provolone, sautéed peppers and onions, pepperoncini, sriracha, and a house-made horseradish Greek yogurt ‘aioli’ on fresh locally-baked bread.”

DIRT also takes a different approach to service with a “counter casual” operating model. “We have a different service model than the omnipresent Chipotle-style assembly line that people have become inundated with,” says JJ McDaniel, DIRT Director of Operations. “You order at the counter, and although we don't have formal servers, from there it's very much a full-service experience. We bring your order to you, with real plates and silverware and linen napkins, check on you during your meal, and clean your table after you leave. Trays and bus tubs are purposely absent from the DIRT dining experience.”

“DIRT has a unique approach to clean, beautiful, fresh food in that they offer a wide variety of dietary options, invigorating the D.C. fine casual scene,” says Meghan Scott, Interior Designer at //3877. “They have a strong brand aesthetic which provided a solid basis for the design. At the same time, they were open to new ideas throughout the collaborative process allowing creative freedom to push the concept. Jeff and JJ’s excitement about coming to D.C. was infectious and we are more than excited to be a part of the team.”

The opening of DIRT Ballston is a homecoming of sorts for LaTulippe. His wife is from Silver Spring, MD and the pair originally met in Washington, D.C. – with their first date in Georgetown in 2010. They are excited to have recently returned to Washington D.C. to live and to share DIRT with the D.C. area. “We're very community-focused, so we look forward to embracing the same approach in D.C. that we've had in Miami – connect with our community on all levels in Ballston and the greater D.C. area and support local farms and food artisans as much as we can.”

Kicking-off the official opening celebration, DIRT Ballston will be offering $20 gift cards to the first 20 customers on Thursday, April 18th, and $10 gift cards to the first customers 10 on Friday, April 19th. In addition, Monday, April 22nd through Friday, April 26th, DIRT Ballston will also be offering a FREE drip coffee or tea with any purchase before 9AM. DIRT Ballston will also be donating 1 percent of all proceeds from its seasonal items to the Arlington Food Assistance Center.

Images courtesy of Mojalvo