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Wellness-Chasing Counter Dirt Goes Through a Messy Closing in Ballston

The Miami-based chain lasted less than a year in Northern Virginia

Tierney Plumb is the editor of Eater DC, covering all things food and drink around the nation's capital.

Health food-heavy fast-casual counter Dirt has permanently closed, leaving one less chain for vegan and gluten-free fanatics in Arlington.

The small chain out of Miami opened its first location outside of Southern Florida at the new Ballston Exchange development (4121 Wilson Boulevard) in April. Eater confirmed the restaurant permanently closed in late January. ARLnow first hinted at a possible closure.

“I can’t say much about it but I’m pretty sure they were doing a good business here. I have been told that all the DIRT restaurants have closed,” Ballston BID CEO Tina Leone told Eater in an email. Soon thereafter, Miami restaurants in South Beach and Brickell suddenly shuttered, according to the Miami Herald.

Ownership did not respond to multiple requests for comment. Dirt co-founder and partner Jeff Latulippe stepped down last fall to “focus on the next chapter for him and his family,” among other reasons, according to the Herald. The newspaper reports that employees were informed of the closures in a late-night text message from the regional director of operations that directed them to operate restaurants until they ran out of products.

Dirt aimed to appease all types of dietary restrictions across a ridiculously long menu of all-day breakfast dishes, toasts, salads, bowls, plates, smoothies, juices, pastries, coffees, and teas. Lots of food fads were also in the mix, like matcha protein pancakes and non-dairy “mylkshakes” made with plant milks and vegan ice cream.

Eater confirmed that at least three local purveyors listed on the menu (Pluma Bakery, Ice Cream Jubilee, and Little Wild Things) hadn’t been sourcing to Dirt for a few months. A Miami employee told Eater that Dirt was originally hoping to expand to Dupont Circle this summer.

A flurry of homegrown partners helped fill out the opening menu in Ballston. There were bagels from Park View’s Call Your Mother; vegan pastries from Doron Petersan’s Sticky Fingers and Fare Well, and coffee from roasters at Grace Street and Alchemist. Local cider and beer hailed from Anxo, Port City, and 3 Stars breweries.

Dirt won over its hometown fans soon after its 2005 debut. The Miami New Times crowned it the best inexpensive restaurant in town. Eater Miami maps featured it for healthy yet delicious dishes and Miami’s best açaí bowls.

Despite showing signs of promise, the import experienced some bad luck in Ballston from the start. Weeks after opening, a can of cooking spray caught fire and exploded in the kitchen, sending a rush of flames through the kitchen and into the dining area at the height of lunch rush.


4121 Wilson Boulevard, , VA 22203 (703) 337-3790 Visit Website