Laura Dean Bennett
Entering through a glass and wood paneled door, flanked by tables in two bay windows, customers step into the new – but they’ll recognize a lot of the old – DirtBean at its new Second Avenue location.
“Yep, here we are in the ‘new’ DirtBean,” owner Kristi Lanier said, smiling. “But it’s really the same old DirtBean – basically the same menu and the same quality of food and service.”
Lanier’s DirtBean has been a fixture in downtown Marlinton for more than 15 years.
Customers who have followed Lanier into what is now her third location in Marlinton will feel right at home.
It’s a warm and cozy space.
There are pretty pastel blue walls, seven tables spread between the first larger room and another, smaller room at the back.
There’s still the “big wooden table” that seats at least eight people, around which many of us have had meetings, parties and good times.
And for those who enjoy tucking into the DirtBean’s bar, there’s one stool at the bar across from the kitchen.
The restaurant is still serving breakfast, lunch and dinner.
It specializes in fresh ingredients and innovative and healthy choices, and, as before, there’s a special every day.
The menu boasts several interesting salads, sandwiches and entrées.
I always recommend the fish taco, although I can’t eat all of it, so I have the fish taco without the taco.
Which makes it a salad.
And what a salad!
Whether you have it in the taco, or just as a salad – this is a zesty melange of spinach, red cabbage, avocado chunks, pineapple, topped with grilled fresh tuna and a rice vinegar and ginger dressing.
A bit exotic for Marlinton, wouldn’t you say?
And that’s why Lanier’s customers keep coming back.
Most days there’s a delicious homemade soup “on the board” such as scallop bacon or roasted red pepper.
On the bar there are fresh scones, bagels and pastries and a variety of teas.
For adventurous tea drinkers there are tea lattes.
There’s something I’ve never heard of, but am looking forward to trying – turmeric latte.
And this place is absolute heaven for coffee aficionados.
They’re sure to recognize the familiar chalk board which lists a dizzying array of choices – coffees, lattes and cappuccinos.
There’s Americano, House Brew and “Flood Mud” – a blend of coffee and espresso.
“It’s like a ‘red eye’ coffee,” Lanier explained, “really strong.”
“We call it Flood Mud, because this is Marlinton, where the term ‘flood’ has real meaning for us all.”
There are Milky Way lattes and Berry Truffle lattes, which, for those uninitiated among us, are dessert coffees.
You can have hot chocolate or a “steamer,” which is hot milk mixed with flavored syrup.
And, of course, you can also have what is probably every town’s most popular cold drink, sweet tea – or, unsweet, if you so choose.
In the new year, Lanier will be bringing back the wide selection of wine, beer, ales, porters and IPAs that her customers have come to expect.
“The DirtBean has been here since September 25 – Road Kill weekend – in 2004,” Lanier remembered. “I’m really grateful to the community for making me welcome here.”
The first location on Eighth Street was successful, but it was destroyed in the November 2013 “Main Street Fire.”
In a fine example of how you can’t keep a good business or a good woman down, Lanier re-opened the DirtBean on Third Avenue across from the City National Bank.
And again it thrived.
Deciding it was time to own, rather than rent a building, Lanier purchased a property on Second Avenue – which housed a flower shop for many years.
It took two years, not inconsiderable expense and a lot of hard work to keep the restaurant going while simultaneously preparing a new location.
“We had to pretty much gut the entire building and there’s still lots to do,” Lanier said.
“The upstairs is not finished. It’s still a shell. And I’ll be putting in a small one-bedroom apartment in back.”
Lest Lanier’s customers despair about her bike business, Lanier explained that “the bike stuff will be back soon.
It will be upstairs.
“We’ll still have a full service bike shop, and there’ll still be a bike repair area,” she said.
There’s room for expansion for the restaurant. The future will include summertime seating out back and Lanier would like to include some music.
“That will come with time,” she added.
“I’m looking forward to welcoming old and new customers to the third DirtBean, and I hope they’ll all like it.
“I’m going to work toward making this place accommodate everything and everyone, as best as I can.”
“And,” she vows, “I’m not moving again!”
The “new” DirtBean is located at 818 Second Avenue. Their phone number has not changed. It is still 304-799-4038.
Laura Dean Bennett may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org