Modification of the Month: Shipping Container Bar
Bespoke shipping containers have been popping up all over the place as portable business solutions. Customised shipping container businesses like bars and cafes are the perfect way to test a new business idea or stand out in an already busy food scene.
Customising a shipping container to transform it into a retail space, coffee shop, or portable restaurant that can compete with local businesses can save you time and money.
At Gateway Containers in Brisbane, we are no strangers to turning steel boxes into an exciting idea. Our team of professionals love helping customers see the vision for their company come to life. Just like our modification of the month.
Modification of the month: Shipping container bar
This customer came to us with the inspiration of a shipping container bar but needed guidance to make it successful… so we got to work planning out the modifications with the customer, and we couldn’t be happier with the end result. Their vision included turning a custom-sized shipping container into a modular, portable bar, intended to serve beverages to customers in an outdoor setting.
This 20ft shipping container was first shortened from six metres in length to 5.4 metres, to be able to fit in the small space available. It was then installed with a personnel access door, full electrics throughout, roof insulation to reduce the impact from the harsh Australian weather, commercial-grade vinyl flooring, two black whirlybirds, two vents for fridge ventilation, and a custom-built 3.6-meter aluminium gas-strut shutter along the right hand sidewall.
This modification was completed with the installation of a custom cut Redgum hardwood timber slab, to be used as the bar top. In addition to these modifications, the container was fully repainted on the interior and exterior in Colourbond Monument.
Why are shipping container cafes and bars popular now?
Shipping container businesses are popular because they’re easily transported, and can be relocated as required. It’s a great way to test out a business idea or try something new without committing to a fixed location. While this may be a perfect business idea for an event hire company, it can provide valuable insight into customer volume and interests for prospective permanent business owners.
With the right planning permission, you could be serving cold beers next to your closest park or cups of coffee near the beach. They’re durable, easy to work with, and are aesthetically pleasing. The industrial chic look of a steel structure can stand out in any location, helping businesses get the upper hand.
How to get started with your own shipping container pop-up bar?
Our professional team can help walk you through every step of the way. We want to help you turn your idea into a busy coffee shop, exhibition space, or every bar owners dream.
Then we can work on helping create your perfect store front and consider options like remote-controlled awnings, heavy duty steel shutters, food preparation areas, and plenty of space to breathe during those busy moments.
Pros and cons of using shipping containers for your business
Shipping containers have been used in the past by businesses to create unique, mobile workspaces. Some of the pros can be:
- Affordable – With the price of shipping containers, anyone can make it work. No need to be a millionaire investor.
- Cost Effective – Using shipping containers for small retail spaces can be a cheap option. The cost of these container business ideas is often lower than the cost of a standard brick-and-mortar restaurant or coffee shop.
- Simple to Relocate – As long as you have somewhere to disassemble your space, you can easily take it apart and move it to a new location.
- Attractive – Shipping containers are perfect for businesses that want to set themselves apart from the crowd. These container business ideas are very popular, especially amongst millennials.
- Portable – Shipping containers can be awkward to move around on-site. It’s a good idea to move them off-site, if possible, which gives you more creative opportunities.
- Size – Shipping containers are usually larger than standard retail spaces, so they can work for both small and big ideas. A small coffee shop or restaurant will use a 10-20ft container, while an exhibition space will be in need of a 40ft unit.
However, there can be a couple of downsides to these container business ideas. Some of the potential issues that small businesses should consider are:
- Issues with Permits – As a business owner, you will have to keep a close eye on your permits and properties to avoid any issues with your local council.
- Storage – Some businesses will need an additional area to store their shipping containers. It’s important to work with your landlord to see what the best option is for you.
- Ease of Use – Depending on your location, it may be difficult to find someone that will let you have use of their land.
Despite these potential and temporary speed bumps, shipping container business ideas can be a great way to explore new business ideas on a budget. They also open the doors for artists and designers to create unique, creative spaces.
Whether you want to open a bar with food in the centre of a town square or help local construction sites fuel up with morning coffee, a container conversion could be the perfect solution.
Examples of successful businesses that have popped up in this niche area
There are so many amazing container bars and cafes that we absolutely love! Here is a list of just a few of our favourites.
Wahaca Restaurant, London
Wahaca is located in London’s Southbank and offers some of our favourite food and drinks – Mexican. Assembled out of eight recycled shipping containers, their fresh dishes are the star of this restaurant.
The customisations are easy to see, with massive front-facing windows letting in all the London sun while you look out over the passersby. While this one is a little more elaborate, we love it for its urban feel.
Image source: Alamy Stock Photo
Snackbox, Times Square, New York
Did someone say hotdogs? New York is known for a few of its dishes, one of which being its streetside hotdogs. Forget a hotdog stall though, Snack Box is taking hotdogs to the next level!
This simple and effective design really shows you the portability of these businesses, being able to relocate them as desired. If you’re looking into exploring this field for the first time, a similar design might suit your needs well without breaking the bank. All you need is space for food/drink preparation and your staff.
Image source: SomePhotosTakenByMe
Movement Cafe, London
There is a small chance you saw or heard about this installation during the 2012 Olympic Games. This temporary cafe was built to help serve the plentiful amount of visitors and tourists during the world’s biggest sporting event.
While the design is quite extensive, we love this because it shows us one of the perfect uses for portable cafes. Event planners need to look no further when it comes to catering to their event attendees.
Image source: Dezeen.com
El Rey, Taqueria + Mexican Beer Garden
This is an example of a perfect idea that meets a perfect location. This container beer garden was quick and easy to pop up and has become the perfect destination for a few drinks and some great food.
Whether patrons are after some late-night tacos or a cheeky margarita to kick off festivities, the perfect destination could be hidden inside a shipping container business.
Photograph: El Rey DC
The future of container bars and cafes
It’s no exaggeration to say that pop-up and portable bars and cafes have become game-changers in the food industry. These types of low risk business ideas don’t need to be tied down with a lease or fixed location. This means that you could start a container business idea as a one-off, and then move it on to a regular venue as soon as possible.
We believe this emerging business niche is here to stay, which means small businesses are more likely to prosper. We are living in a time when the options are endless. With the right preparation, your shipping container business idea could reach all corners of Australia.
If you or anyone you know is searching for reliable customer service and expert advice on all things shipping containers, give our team of experts a call on 07 3348 6463 or send us a message.