CRITICALLY-ACCLAIMED COUNTER CASUAL EATERY ‘DIRT’ TO OPEN FIRST LOCATION OUTSIDE MIAMI AT BALLSTON EXCHANGE IN 2019
Celebrated Miami-based counter casual eatery DIRT has announced that it will open its first location outside Miami in Ballston, VA within the highly anticipated Ballston Exchange from Jamestown LP. DIRT Ballston will be located at 4121 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 102B, Arlington, VA 22203, and plans to open in spring 2019.
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 plans to connect creatively with the community, including neighboring gyms and boutique fitness studios, so they are thrilled to be located within close proximity to Sport & Health, Gold’s Gym, Orange Theory, VIDA Fitness (also opening in 2019), 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 that 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 (I lost about 60 pounds in my early to mid 20s), 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, Faroe Island salmon, wild-caught tuna, organic free-range chicken, and pasture-raised 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.”
Featuring 1,800 square feet, DIRT Ballston has enlisted local architecture and interiors firm //3877 to spin a design evocative of DIRT’s roots in Miami and Ballston’s rich character. Welding clean, strong geometric forms with storied textures and industrial-chic materials, including concrete and blackened steel, DIRT’s persona is reflective of its defining narrative, placing a heavy emphasis on clean eating and great taste coexisting. Espousing a sleek and contemporary aesthetic visually connected to DIRT’s seasonally-inspired menu, emerald green and natural elements will be weaved throughout the space, playing upon the eatery’s dedication to all things natural.
Within the restaurant, 33 seats will offer guests an opportunity to relax and enjoy their meals while a grab ‘n go window is designed accommodate guests who are on the move. A large marble order counter will be available for easy ordering and an intuitive flow of space. Separating the ordering station from the food prep center, a modern glass block wall will be revealed, opening the space’s floor plan visually without sacrificing food prep standards. The back of the space will be illuminated by a sculptural neon sign denoting DIRT’s ‘Eat Clean, Talk Dirty’ message while providing an eye-catching element that dictates the fresh, fun, and playful ambiance. White oak, maple, and subway tile detailing will create a seamless approach to imbuing airiness throughout the space. Oversized basket weave pendants will flush the concept out in full, creating a statement piece that generates a narrative without taking attention away from the food.
“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 return home and share DIRT with the D.C. area. “We're very community-focused, so we’ll take the same approach in D.C. that we've had in Miami – we’ll make friends in Ballston and the greater D.C. area and support local farms and food artisans as much as we can.”
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