What began as an irreverent East Vancouver bar known for its wicked good burgers has taken its final bow: Trans Am, more recently known as Turbo x Trans Am, recently shut its doors for good. The restaurant announced its permanent closure via Instagram in the third week of September but has since deleted its account.
Trans Am was located at 1879 Powell Street. The concept began as a nighttime-only bar with limited seats and a strict no cellphone policy. Killer cocktails were paired with juicy burgers or steaks from a limited menu.
Named Vancouver Magazine Restaurant Awards' 2020 Bar of the Year (before COVID-19 forced the Awards to hold up indefinitely, too), Trans Am had been a steady go-to, with guests eager to nab a coveted seat in the small space - even if it meant they couldn't Instagram their craft cocktails and thick, rich burgers. It was a joy to sip a well-made drink in the near-dark, vinyl playing, and disconnect a little.
Shortly after B.C.'s bars and restaurants had to close their doors due to public health orders in the face of the COVID-19 crisis in March 2020, Trans Am pivoted to offer burgers and drinks in a to-go format. But by mid-June 2020, Trans Am owner Gianmarco Colannino paused operations, saying the business as it was functioning was not working.
Just two months later, Trans Am re-emerged as a more multi-purpose take-out and market space, featuring a quirky assortment of locally-made items for purchase, ranging from burger-embossed leather keychains to tees and vintage jackets, along with food like Mumgry peanut butter. And of course, they still had burgers.
In the past year, Trans Am held on with its mercurial presence with a return to a more restaurant-style operation with a rotating menu, but ultimately an exit strategy was enacted.
Hopefully Colannino's many talents will get to shine again in Vancouver. In the meantime, burger lovers will have to be satisfied with what other options the city has.