The Ultimate Guide to Shipping Container Restaurants
Each and every year the list of shipping containers that have been customised to create restaurants, whether pop up or permanent, grows and grows. Sure we’ve written about this topic before, but food is awesome, and shipping containers full of food that is ready for our bellies at lunch time is even more awesome. So let’s have a look at the ultimate guide to shipping container restaurants around the world, meaning you’ll be able to buy your favourite snack from a big steel box, no matter what city or country you are visiting.
Here’s 18 of the coolest meals you can find in a giant tin can:
1) Del Popolo Pizza Truck – San Francisco, USA
Not all food trucks are the same, and this one, being constructed from a 20 foot shipping container is amazing. With the mission of bringing real, authentic Neapolitan style pizza to the masses in San Francisco, Del Popolo have done it right. They’ve modified their shipping container to include a full wood fired oven and glass doors that allow customers a full view of the cooking process. They’ve kept it nice and simple and focused on making good, honest pizza. It’s probably one of the simplest restaurant conversions we’ve seen (with the exception of it being truck mounted) – but part of it’s genius is in it’s simplicity.
2) Hellmanns Mayo – Copenhagen, Denmark
Hellmann’s took a 20 foot shipping container, wrapped it up and dropped it off on the streets of Copenhagen in Denmark, then something strange happened. Locals pulled the ribbon and unwrapped a restaurant serving free fresh sandwiches, with – you guessed it, mayonnaise on them. This modified shipping container featured side doors that lowered to be used decked seating for guests, as well as a full cafe/bar top surface for serving, power and refrigeration.
Check it out in the video below.
3) SIS Deli + Cafe – Helsinki, Finland
This temporary cafe and fully functioning bakery was set up for a design event in the capital of Finland, Helsinki. Constructed from a few shipping containers, it has minimal modifications such as painting in pastel colours and an electrical supply (for the kitchen) with high end lighting. Keeping the theme simple, wooden shipping pallets were used for the decking at the front of the container.
4) Porchetta Box – Montreal, Canada
Created in partnership with the container modification team at Muvbox, Porchetta is constructed from a single 20 foot container and is based in the old port of Montreal. The concept is simple, an Italian classic, slow roasted pork, served with fresh bread and a little bit of salad. Keeping it simple is the key and it works well with this basic containerised specialty cafe.
5) Wahaca Mexican Restaurant – London, UK
Also known as the Wahaca Southbank Experiment, this pop up shipping container restaurant was constructed from 8 second hand shipping containers on London’s Southbank and served up only the finest in Mexican food and drink. These 8 shipping containers were painted bright colours and stacked in pairs, with a central glass atrium. Containers at the top served Mexican tequila, while a terrace provided a place to eat and drink in the fresh air below. The containers are decorated with a rotation of art from Mexican artists and a mixture of both new and retro furniture. This great pop up container location lasted for 18 months before being moved and rebuilt on at a new venue.
6) Smokey Park Supper Club – Asheville, USA
Smoky park supper club is now the biggest shipping container restaurant, constructed from 19 modified shipping containers over a space of three days. Build on reclaimed land, with recycled materials, it’s an excellent example of environmentally friendly building when it comes to restaurants. It’s unique location allows it to be accessible by cyclists, boats and those on foot, as well as of course – those with cars.
Food wise, it is locally sourced, cooked on the fire, tasty stuff in a classic American style.
7) Til the Cows Come Home – Berlin, Germany
Constructed within a single 40 foot shipping container in Germany’s capital, Berlin – this slow food joint is perfect for those of us who prefer our vegetables to our meat. With a menu full of healthy, yummy food including smoothies, fresh juices, smoothies and more.
8) Ska Brewing World – Durango, USA
Ska brewing built their restaurant out of two modified shipping containers stacked on top of each other. Their choice of second hand shipping containers was due to their commitment to sustainabiity within their business, already utilising solar tubes for lighting and recycled denim for insulation materials.
9) El Rey – Washington DC, USA
Another taco shop and Mexican beer garden, El Rey is constructed from five shipping containers on popular U Street. Just like it’s location, the containers are placed in a U shaped formation with a central space for eating in the middle. A retractable roof provides all weather comfort regardless of whether it’s hot or cold.
10) Quartyard – San Diego, California
Quartyard started as a project of some University Architecture and Design Students. Downtown San Diego had many empty lots left after the 2008 financial crisis, and plenty of shipping containers. The project utilised second hand shipping containers as the core building block, transforming empty lots on San Diego’s East Village into a thriving hub of cafes (including S&M – dedicated to Sausages & Meat), art galleries, bars and more. A 40 foot container houses a prep kitchen, canopies provide shade, while other containers house various outbuildings and a sound system and staging for concerts and parties.
11) Les Grande Tables – Paris, France
This is one of the craziest design ideas we’ve seen so far for a shipping container restaurant. Combining the design of a timber frame house, a green house, and even (apparently) a barge – this building uses a combination of glass, industrial scaffolding and shipping containers to make for a truly individual and imposing design. All we can say is “WOW!”.
12) Movement Cafe – London, UK
Another great example of a pop up cafe using shipping containers, Movement Cafe is located in the UK’s capital, London. Built for the London Olympics, construction took only 16 days, and was closed after the games around Christmas 2012. Pitched at the cities hipster and environmentally conscious community, the cafe served up vegan and locally sourced food.
13) Singapore Takeout – Worldwide
Launched in 2011, Singapore Takeout is a mobile pop up Singaporean concept restaurant that is travelling the globe. With a focus on Singaporean street cuisine, the first location chosen was London in the UK. Constructed from a modified 20 foot shipping container, Singapore Takeout spent 12 months visiting 9 cities globally as part of the Singapore International Culinary Exchange. Modifications include a full commercial kitchen with the latest and greatest equipment and a folding side that provides a decked area for tables and chairs to be placed for customers to eat at. It’s standard ISO sizing allows the container to be easily moved from location to location using a combination of trucks and container ships.
14) Box’d – San Diego, USA
Located in upmarket Carlsbad, slightly North of San Diego, California – Box’d is a waffle shop with a difference. Constructed from two 20 foot shipping containers, it features a similar design to the Singapore Takeout, with its side doors lowering to provide full access to the store within. Shade is provided with a roll out roof, to protect from the strong Californian sun. Bar stools are automatically deployed once the hydraulics drop the floor into place.
15) Taco Bell – Austin, USA
American Mexican style chain restaurant Taco Bell has jumped on the shipping container restaurant bandwagon recently when providing pop up stores for the popular SXSW (South By Southwest) music and film conference in Austin, Texas. Their prototype store was constructed in only three days using three pre-built and modified 40 foot shipping containers to house cool store, management offices, food preparation and retail areas as well as a few containers that have been cut in half. Taco Bell has plans to expand its stores by at least 2000 sites in the next few years, so we might end up seeing a lot more prefabricated containers in the near future. According to their CEO:
“We think we could do 100 to 200 of these container stores. But it has to be in the right climate and the right location for it to make sense… We’re going to explore dropping this type of asset in different locations, which will ultimately give us the ability to show up in unexpected places for our consumers”.
16) Cafe Froebe – Linz, Austria
Utilising a similar design to the container cafes made by Muvbox, Froebe opens at the touch of a button. Painted a shiny gold colour, Frobe is constructed from a single second hand 20 foot shipping container. With a focus on serving drinks, the cafe has a bar area that takes up much of the containers length, while the rest of the space is taken up by storage, washing areas and of course a large fridge.
17) Imbiss – Germany
Not much is known about this roadside cafe in Germany, other than it’s made from a couple of second hand shipping containers and painted in the colours of the German flag. With it’s giant iron bars, one can only assume that it’s not in the best part of town wherever it’s located!
18) The French Laundry – Napa Valley, USA
Supposedly one of the best restaurants in the entire United States, the French Laundry temporarily relocated to a shipping container during renovations. Extensive renovations were required due to their actual building being well over 100 years old. Rather than close down, the entire business relocated into four modified shipping containers housing both the kitchen and dining areas. This example stands out from all the rest of our shipping container restaurants in that you’ll have to book at least a few months in advance to get a spot, even in a container. The food must be good!
Modified Shipping Containers Make the Perfect Restaurant
Whether it’s a single 20 foot container for a pop up cafe, a cheap roadside stall, 10 fully modified containers for a massive, full scale restaurant or something fit for the best eating destination in the country, Gateway Container Sales and Hire have got you covered. Give our team of container experts a call or email us for a free quote.
We’ll suggest the best container solution, modifications and everything you’ll need to get your dream restaurant project underway.