Miami 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 with neighboring gyms and boutique fitness studios like Sport & Health, Gold’s Gym, Orange Theory, VIDA Fitness (also opening in 2019), Ballston CrossFit, and Bash Boxing.
“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.”
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.
“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.”