Written by Heidi Baumstark
Did someone say, “TA-DA!”? That’s what people shout as an exclamation of triumph. It’s the ring of fanfare. A reply accompanying an announcement or big reveal.
And there’s a travel bar in town that’s named just that: TA-DA! Travel Bar, a decked out vintage Piaggio Ape which is a three-wheeled, Vespa-style scooter from Italy. With its classic beige shade and curvy body, the scooter is sure to turn heads, promising to be a hit at any gathering, from intimate to large-scale celebrations.
Since 1948, Piaggio Ape scooters have come in various configurations to serve a range of functions. Since launching TA-DA! in Middleburg in 2020, owner Jennifer Colon has used hers as a mobile mini bar and memory maker, transporting fun to any party.
“I was traveling in the U.K. years ago and they had these cute little three-wheelers that were serving prosecco,” Colon remembers. “It’s a thing there. And nothing was like that here, so I wanted to do something.”
Colon found a purveyor who sourced her Piaggio Ape from France. He has a business that converts vehicles into traveling bars, coffee bars, flower bars, etc., throughout Europe. So, she contacted him, chose the configuration, picked out the colors, and sent him camera-ready art for the logo. “It came over on a huge container ship into Norfolk; that was in April 2020 at the very start of the pandemic. I went to Norfolk to pick it up,” Colon recalls. “I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, it’s finally here!’”
With the Piaggio Ape, TA-DA! is able to host any number of indoor or outdoor events, including weddings, rehearsal dinners, engagement parties, milestone birthdays, retirement parties, bridal or baby showers, equestrian gatherings, sports events, golf tournaments, corporate events, client and employee appreciation parties, fundraisers, brand activations, and anything else Colon’s clients can think of across Virginia, D.C., and Maryland. TA-DA! is all about cheers, celebrations, and forever cherishing the moment with seemingly limitless applications.
Complete with six taps and a state-of-the-art cooling system, TA-DA! serves perfectly chilled sparkling drinks, wine, beer, hard cider, craft cocktails, nitro-brewed coffee, and non-alcoholic beverages. “Our team provides [the] TA-DA! [mobile bar] and clients benefit from customizing the rest. They have total control over their beverage choices,” Colon explains. Some want all six taps to be beer, or wine, but taps can be mixed and matched with each one containing a different beverage. Taps hold sixtels (one-sixth of a full keg) with a capacity of 5.6 gallons (20 liters). Sixtels, also known as sixth barrels, hold 55 12-ounce pours. Customers can purchase sixtels at large retail businesses, or some local wineries and cideries also sell in the sixtel format. Clients supply all drinks, mixers, garnishes, and supplies like glass or plasticware, utensils, stirrers, and paper products.
Timing is customizable, too. Renters choose from three-, five-, and seven-hour package deals. Need more time? TA-DA! can keep the party rolling for an additional hourly fee, or even for a fun road trip and can be rented on a daily, multi-day, weekly, and monthly basis. If an event is catered, clients have the option of using their caterer as a bartender, or can hire their own. Basically, clients have the flexibility of who pours. “But it can’t be a random person bartending,” Colon adds. “The person needs to be at least 21 years of age.”
Packages also include bar decor with built-in LED lighting and bistro lights, a rustic serving table that can be placed in front or beside the scooter, six chalkboard signs for each tap, a customizable drink menu sign, delivery, set-up, and breakdown. Colon collects glassware and displays it on the bar shelves to complete the vintage look. Patrons can use the serving table to place decorative items like flowers, a welcome sign, framed photos, and personal accents that coordinate with their theme. Some clients have brought arching balloon arrangements for a fun, festive finish. Customers can also get a magnetic logo printed to place on the scooter’s body or hang a banner on the front or side.
Regarding the color scheme, Colon chose something neutral so the Piaggio Ape doesn’t conflict with party colors, especially for weddings. Speaking of weddings, TA-DA! can even be used as a dessert bar, cigar and whiskey lounge, macaron bubbly bar, brownie bubbly bar, a flower truck, or photo booth.
The scooter’s petite size — 10 feet long and 6 feet wide — allows it to fit inside a venue, tent, on a porch, or on a patio. The compact cart gets through small spaces in a backyard, through double French doors, through gates by a poolside, or under outdoor tents. “We trailer-in the bar. It drives, but only about 30 miles an hour,” Colon says.
For local businesses, TA-DA! can even serve as a secondary bar. In the early days in 2021, “I had my bar at Salamander [in Middleburg] and left it there over the summer and they used it as a pop-up happy hour,” Colon remembers. “They had their bartender serve; we put everything in our containers, and they worked the bar.” Another time, TA-DA! parked at Mt. Defiance Cider Barn for a wedding; Mt. Defiance served cider inside their building, while TA-DA! served customers outside for ease of access to drink.
“When coming up with a name for the business, my thing was, you go to a party and you say, ‘TA-DA!’ to announce you’re there,” Colon notes. And that’s just what TA-DA! does: announces the party is here. We can all toast to that. ML
For more information and to reserve TA-DA! for your next celebration, visit tadabar.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Published in the October 2023 issue of Middleburg Life.