75°Partly Cloudy

brgr:shack Closes, Earl’s Moving in by Weekend

by Katie Pyzyk September 5, 2012 at 11:35 am 7,229 88 Comments

Talk about a quick turnaround. Just days after brgr:shack (4215 Fairfax Drive) closed its doors across the street from the Ballston Metro station, Earl’s Sandwiches is nearly ready to open in the space.

Last month, Earl’s co-owner Steve Dugan told ARLnow.com he hoped the restaurant would be able to open in early September, and a sign posted on the window sports the hand-written note “this week.” Dugan confirms the restaurant should open on Friday or Saturday.

brgr:shack, which won the 2012 Taste of Arlington Best Entree, had been at that location for a little more than a year and a half. Workers can be seen inside working on renovating the burger joint into the new Earl’s.

This will be the second location for Earl’s, which already has a restaurant in the Courthouse/Clarendon area (2605 Wilson Blvd). Dugan said the goal was to expand, but remain nearby.

“We have a following in this area, but we are maxed out in this location and can’t serve any more customers,” Dugan said. “We like Northern Virginia and wanted to stay close by.”

The menu at the Ballston location will be the same as the original Earl’s, with the addition of beer and wine. Initially, the restaurant will only be open during the day, but will eventually add evening hours.

  • DeportEmAll

    Earl’s = too expensive.

    • Jeff

      If you don’t value quality, then sure…

    • Tre

      Arlington = expensive

      p.s. Earl’s is worth every dollar and if you disagree again I will fight you

      • DudeGuy123

        I will fight you. Place is bland at best.

  • Hurley

    So how do I redeem my Brgr Groupon that I have?

    • Groupon is good

      Email them. If you used Google, they’re very quick to refund money. Groupon is usually pretty good too, takes awhile though

  • Deadite

    Good thing they’ll have beer and wine so patrons can wash down the extremely dry and flavorless sandwiches.

    • SMDC


    • drax

      You haven’t actually been there have you?

      • Deadite

        Actually Drax, I’ve been three times and had the same experience each time. But enjoy tricking yourself into thinking this place is good simply because it’s local.

        • SteamboatWillie

          Same here. I’ve tried Earl’s on several occasions, alone and with friends, and the reaction was universally tepid. The best sandwich I had there was just average, and my impression was that the sandwiches were too dry.

          Different strokes for different folks I suppose.

          • CW

            I agree. Small, boring sandwiches.

        • Guy LeDouche

          How dare you have a differing opinion than that of the all-knowing drax? That isn’t allowed on this website. You must agree and conform to everything that drax posts. Get with the program.

      • SMDC

        I’ve been there! The bread was dry, the meat had bad texture. I tried again, same. The end. Don’t like it.

        It’s a sandwich, we’re not saying your kids are ugly. Calm down.

  • Jason

    I am having conflicted feelings. Brgr:Shack is my favorite burger joint, and Earl’s is my favorite sandwich shop.

  • Ralph

    Earl’s with beer! YEAH!

  • LP

    Earl’s is great – don’t hate.

    Yes, it’s more expensive, but they’re a small shop, have quality, in-house made ingredients that are worth the extra few dollars.

  • Drunk_IrishChick

    Will they have Doormen?

    • SomeGuy

      Get Clarendon Skank in on this conversation, and let’s talk sandwiches.

  • RonB

    Really sorry to see Burger Shack leave, the owners seemed to be there alot looking after the place and best burgers around. Hopefully they’ll have success with the next place.

    • SMDC

      I agree! I actually enjoyed these burgers more than some others in the area. Unfortunately, when I moved from Ballston to Court house, I wasn’t able to stop by as often.

      • x

        Thirded! I thought theirs were some of the better burgers around, and I had the sense that ownership was there and caring about the end-product (as these places expand they have to hire lower-paid workers who naturally don’t have as much interest in the success of the business and the happiness of the customers).

        Does anybody know what happened? I’d assume they weren’t doing enough business but don’t know.

        I’m not interested in Earl’s.

        • drax

          Just try it.

      • woody

        Agreed, always liked this place despite not stopping in enough. On several occassions the owner / mgr went out of his way to comp food that wasn’t ready after calling in or due to some seemingly innocuous mistake. Most businesses wouldn’t have gone to this trouble so I always did my best to recommend them to others.

      • Sherriff Gonna Getcha

        They consistently under-cooked their burgers at this joint. It tasted ok as long as you knew in advance to say you didnt want it to be Rare.

        Also- the music in there was always so bizarre, I felt like they were trying to be some kind of club scene or something, which the insanely bright lights only intensified.

        • Squirginia Vare

          I agree. I went there twice and both times the burger was pretty much raw in the middle.

  • Astoria442

    bring back food factory!

    • Just Me

      I miss Food Factory.

  • nom de guerre

    For the old timers-bring back Super Garden Market!

    • That’s so awesome! My Dad, Aaron Thaler, who founded ‘Super Garden’ in 1941 with his parents, would LOVE that his store is remembered some 23 years after it closed! The whole family remembers the place so fondly. See the above URL for some pics of the one-time Arlington institution.

      • Brian Alpert
        • nom de guerre

          Did you acquire your Rupp mini-bike from Allcraft Cycle that was across Fairfax Drive from the original location of Super Garden?

          • Brian Alpert

            Boy, you really did grow up there 😉 No, though they did work on it from time to time, and our lawn mowers too. I got it at a little hobby shop in Falls Church, near the State Theater. You recognized the brand pretty readily — did you also have one?

          • nom de guerre

            Yeah, I had a Rupp that I got from Allcraft. I thought there was a mower repair shack across Stuart Street from Super Garden. Doug Comer’s Mower Shop? Think it was before you got to Wally’s Aquarium.

          • Brian Alpert

            O, that mower shop is what I was thinking of. It was indeed on Stuart St. across from Super Garden. But now that you mention it, right, the motorcycle place nearby, indeed. I wouldn’t have remembered the name, but yup, that was it. Those guys were always in getting sandwiches, etc. They were always on my dad to buy a bike, as he rode one while an MP in the war.

  • but why?

    Does anyone know why brgr:shack closed?

    • Ballston

      I work nearby and honestly the place was awful for lunch. The food was delicious, but I never ate there and had it take less than 10-15 minutes to get my food. That’s fine for dinner, but a lot of Ballston’s restaurant traffic is driven by the office lunch rush, and the place just wasn’t convenient.Couldn’t have helped their bottom line.

      • DudeGuy123

        Thats what I read. They made damn good burgers and they took time to make them perfect. You take the top bun off and everything is distributed equally. This is important so that the first bite is like the 2nd and third. It is not a fast food place so it sucks that in a rush people might have hurt the business which, IMO was the best burger place in the area.

  • Hungry Worker

    I work next to the Clarendon-Courthouse location of Earl’s. Been there once. Got their fried fish sandwich. I was pretty unimpressed with the amount of fish in it. For nearly $10, I had expected a bit more. Sorry.

  • Ryan

    Earl’s Italian is the best sandwich on Earth. If you have a bed experience with another sandwich, try this one.

    • Jeff

      I haven’t had too many bed experiences with sandwiches… but there was that one time…..

    • SMDC

      This is the one I hated the most….

  • ArlNow?

    Arlnow, were you able to find out why Brgr:Shack closed? I really liked that place. 🙁

    • Bob123

      One of the manager’s at Brgr:shack told me that Earls made them an offer they couldn’t refuse. I’m not sure if it’s true or not, but seems like it since Earl moved right in. Just sayin

  • Dweeb

    If you named your hard drive brgr and had a top-level folder called shack, you could get brgr:\shack. I don’t see how you can get brgr:shack.

    • SomeGuy

      brgr:shack as stk:upscale home?

      • Dweeb

        Oh, it’s an SAT question.

  • Make It Johnnie’s

    I’m going to go out on a limb and say that their amount of business was not generating sufficient revenues. Sarcasm aside, I complimented the manager a few months back that it was the best burger I’d had in a long time.

    • Grouponer

      That and it seemed like 50% of their business was from deals from groupon, LS, or google offers. I’m sure they can’t sustain that after awhile. A few times I went they were a bit slow, but good

    • SamW

      I went back recently and was disappointed that they revamped their menu. They took away the delicious Fancy Zola and added plain, run-of-the-mill toppings. Still had tasty chocolate milkshakes but they lost my loyalty after that.

  • kj

    That Cuban sammy at Earl’s is saucesome!

  • B22201

    How does one place close and another open within a few days? Doesn’t the health-department, county inspectors, etc need to be involved to “re-certify” a place first?

    Or do all of the current licenses, certifications, etc just move onto whomever should move into a place?

    Just wondering. . .

  • kj

    Anyone know what’s planned for the Bistro Bistro space in Shirlington?

  • info81

    I miss food factory also, I loved that place

    I went into bgr:shack but they never seemed to be very busy, I just don’t think they could keep it going. Nice guys though.

    Two ideas
    What we need in Ballston is a good Donair place, someone needs to visit Ottawa, Canada and copy one of the late night donair shops there. (Remember fries go IN the Donair) or go to Nova Scotia and visit the “King of Donair” (local chain)


    Pizza – There is one to go pizza place (Pizza Authentica) I don’t like it much. It someone can do a good cheap pizza like Goody’s, it will do well. Keep the shop small to save rent.

    We just have too many burger places.

    • ArlNow?

      Wasn’t there a pizza placed called Naked Pizza supposed to open in Ballston? What ever happened to that?

      • Sherriff Gonna Getcha

        There is a pizza place directly next to this new Earls. But its not very good.

      • zimmy

        Naked Pizza is going in to the ground level of Quincy Plaza. Construction was stalled for months over some kind of permit issue but they restarted construction a few weeks ago and they have a whole bunch of those light-up signs for their delivery vehicles sitting by the door. I would guess it will still be a month or two before they open.

    • Brian

      doner* not donair

      • SteamboatWillie

        Döner not doner 😉

        • CW

          döner kebabı to you both

  • Pizza Face

    Quincy Plaza where Jackson’s used to be. But not much happening there in a long time.

  • DarkHeart

    Donair/Poutine shops are the next FroYo for Arlington.

    • SteamboatWillie

      If only.

      A döner kebab done right is something to behold. Unfortunately, I haven’t found a place here that comes close to the ones in Germany, courtesy of the large Turkish population over there.

    • JamesE

      I would murder someone for a poutine or doner shop

      • Pizza Face

        If it’s made from liver, is it an organ doner?

  • Brian

    As Burger Days says my problem was their slow, slow service. I don’t have 15 minutes to wait during lunch for a burger. I loved their food but their slow service plus all the promos I think did them in. Hope ARLNow can follow up for us.

    • Deadite

      All made-to-order boutique burger joints take a long time to cook. This isn’t a phenomenon unique to brgr:shack. It’s not fast food.

      • Regis

        Z Burger takes about 5 minutes when I go in for lunch.

        • nom de guerre

          I’m guessin’ you order the burger tartare.

          • Regis

            Nope. Just go in after the rush.

        • Virginia^2

          But doesn’t Z Burger use 1/4-pound patties? Let’s say I order a 1/2-pound burger: at Z Burger, they’ll slap two patties on top of each other; at Wiinky’s (my personal favorite, but insert your preferred small local burger establishment) they’d cook a 1/2-pound patty. I don’t have a mathematical surface area to volume ratio cook-time comparison ready for you, but I know from my limited grilling experience that fat patties take longer to cook.

          If Z Burger does do this (admittedly, I’ve never been there sober, so I could be wrong), then I’d put it in a “fast food” burger category, separate from “gourmet” burgers like brgr:shack. I do know that Z Burger has my patties on the grill before I even walk in the door, which is certainly more “fast food.” It’s certainly a trade-off, but I’m not sure that it’s a fair comparison.

          • Regis

            I have never had a double there so I don’t know. But the Glover Park one is usually pretty slow after around 1:00, and they slap a fresh patty on for me when I get a cheeseburger. Nice staff up there. The owner or GM type sometimes stops by and does some paperwork at one of the tables. He’s pretty approachable.

      • DudeGuy123

        +1 to that. They had good meat, thick burgers and it takes time. If you dont have 15 mins to wait for a burger that is MADE TO ORDER then you should work harder to have more of a lunch break.

  • b-money

    Nobody wants the old Ruby Tuesday at the top of the metro?

    • zimmy

      It looks like something is going on in there. The lights were on last weekend for the first time in years and it looked like they were replacing light fixtures. I also think CBRE took down the ‘for lease’ signs on the windows.

      • JamesE

        Taco Bell

  • Wilbur

    Cool! Earl’s is good! Nice location for a quick sandwich!

  • BRGR Shack was terrible. Earl’s is awesome. A good roast beef sandwich (with the meat made in-house) is worth paying for!

    • ArlNow?

      Your face is terrible.

    • Chucks

      How do you make the meat in house? Do you raise and slaughter your own cows in the back of the restaurant?

      • Regis

        They reconstitute if from that liquid meat-in-a-bag product on site.

  • JakeO

    Three words for best subs/sammy in town – I-Talian-Store!

    • DudeGuy123

      Yikes. I ate there 3 times been there 4. 1st time was to get a sub which was more bread than anything (very little meat and cheese). 2nd time was for a pizza which was CRAZY greasy and I could hardly eat. 3rd time I ate there I got everything and was paying then saw tons of flys and ants on the bred that they were cutting for people. I gave the sub back and did not pay for it. 4th time I went in saw the same huge amount of flys and bugs and walked right now.


      • Clarendon

        Good, stay away and maybe I won’t pull number 89 when they are serving number 24

      • Four Times ??

        Really dude ??

        • DudeGuy123

          Yes really dude

  • TAC

    I love Earl’s and am happy for them and their success. Really great sandwiches.

  • Persian that wears too much cologne

    Pork and Fries is the go to… Have to eat it at the shop dont want to get the lambo dirty as I circle the wilson strip a few times


Subscribe to our mailing list