Shipping containers offer a durable, highly adaptable, portable, and secure structure. Because they can be…
The restaurant industry is highly competitive and requires more than just a creative menu. While high-quality food and service are a given, restaurant owners must also offer unique experiences to successfully stand out from their competition. Here we look at how seven shipping container restaurants stand out for their design and the unique experience they offer.
1. Federalist Pizza, Sacramento, California, USA
Image Source: Federalist PIzza Google Business Profile
This California restaurant is considered one of the premier shipping container restaurants. Despite its unique location in an alley, this stylish spot is far from shabby. The restaurant, situated behind a century-old house, has taken the use of shipping containers to a whole new level. It was easy, considering Owner Marvin Maldonado is an architect by trade. He came up with the idea for his restaurant design in 2014, using seven modified shipping containers.
Not only does the restaurant use environmentally friendly containers, but it also features a green roof that creates an insulating effect to keep the container warm in the winter and cool in the summer. A prominent open floor-to-ceiling façade brilliant with light and warmth welcomes guests into the modern interior, which creates an interesting contrast with the rather industrial metal exterior walls.
2. The Gulf, Orange Beach, Alabama, USA
Image Source: The Gulf Google Business Profile.
This Orange Beach shipping container restaurant offers the ultimate hangout, where fresh seafood dominates the menu, and reclaimed materials dominate the restaurant’s design. The combination creates a rustic, welcoming feel with the distinct look of the shipping containers working perfectly set against the natural backdrop of the beach and sea.
Palm trees sway luxuriously alongside the cheerful blue and white structure while a generous patio and seating on a well-manicured lawn extend the restaurant’s dining space to make the most of its beachside location. The intricate design, configuration, and stacking of the containers create a distinct look for this seaside hideaway.
3. Santa Fe Brewery, Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA
Image Source: Santa Fe Brewing Facebook
Among our selection of shipping container restaurants is also the Santa Fe Brewing Co. in Albuquerque. This taproom was created using eight high-cube shipping containers located at the site of Green Jeans Farmery. The architects took full advantage of the container’s “stackability,” creating an impressive double-height entry. The second-story patio and floor-to-ceiling windows are designed to make the most of the taproom’s exceptional views overlooking the Volcanoes and Sandia Mountains. The brewery chose shipping containers for both their taproom locations as part of its commitment to sustainability.
4. Starbucks, Taipei, Taiwan
Image source: Pauline Lu, Unsplash
This unique, multi-storey Starbucks in Taiwan was created using 29 shipping containers. The four-level stack of pure white containers is staggered and set at 90-degree angles to create interest. The café is 320 sqm and mimics the diverse foliage of coffee plants along with a nod to traditional Chinese bucket arches commonly seen in historic temples and palaces. Skylights and floor-to-ceiling windows create a space streaming with natural light, while the exposed steel walls create an industrial texture contrasting with natural wood floors. Guests can enjoy sitting in open spaces or choose a private booth with comforting wood-paneled walls.
5. Unit Cafe, Kyiv, Ukraine
Image source: TSEH Architectural Group
The Unit Café was part of a revitalization project in Kyiv targeting students who study at the city’s IT school, fondly known as the Unit Factory. They chose to use 14 sea containers to create the two-storey, 275 sqm café using the corrugated texture of the metal to create interest. A container placed vertically creates a focal point while also housing the staircase leading to second-storey seating and office space. The vertical unit is painted black, standing out against the vibrant green of the structure. The café and office space stream with natural light thanks to floor-to-ceiling cut-outs. A pond and bridge create an unexpected feature at the entry on the ground floor, and a bright green metal outdoor second-floor patio is the structure’s crowning glory.
6. Doca Steak Burger, Patos de Mina, Brazil
Image source: Meius Architecture
Located in Patos de Minas, Brazil, Doca Steak Burger is one of our favourite shipping container restaurants. The designer’s goal was to demonstrate how creative planning can take advantage of even the city’s smallest, most awkward footprints. The container restaurant leverages a 210 sqm triangular lot in an ideal location along a major city avenue. The success of the build sets a global example of how land legislation can change to support the sustainability of space in overcrowded cities.
The industrialized modular structure interacts beautifully with the busy city surroundings, set against a dominant mural on the neighbouring building. The two-storey restaurant was constructed with two 40-foot shipping containers. Vibrant exterior yellow metal steps leading up to the outdoor terrace on the top floor contrast with the structure’s black exterior accenting the corrugated metal walls.
7. Trakol, Gateshead, UK
Image Source: By The River Brew
This UK container brewery sits below the Tyne Bridge on the Gateshead side of the river, providing an industrial umbrella for this unique structure’s rusted corrugated metal exterior. The beauty of this location is the symmetry created between the container’s natural rusting patina and the industrial, dominant bridge overhead. The designers allowed the patina to become the star feature of the exterior, requiring second glances to determine if this actually is the “place” or is just a stack of weathered, deserted shipping sea cans.
The expanse of the self-proclaimed “container settlement” almost camouflages the location, which is likely to feel more like a train than a brewery. However, the distinct white “Trakol” painted on the upper floor lets people know they have arrived. The settlement includes a street food market and the Backyard Bike Shop, where bikes are repaired, and visitors can enjoy a surprisingly good cup of coffee and brunch.
The Last Words
Architects and eco-conscious restaurateurs continue to push the boundaries of traditional building methods, leveraging the existing sturdy structure and the many possible modifications of shipping containers to create unique dining experiences. Around the world, exciting cafés, fine dining restaurants, resto lounges, and bars offer one-of-a-kind destinations in unexpected locations. The versatility of containers allows city planners to leverage tight spaces to make the most of overcrowded urban centers, whether it is on a street corner, on a beach, or under a bridge.
Conterm provides new and used shipping containers for sale to real estate developers, restaurant owners, cities, and more looking to create unique restaurant experiences. We’ll be happy to collaborate with creative minds on unique projects. Contact us to tell us about your project and see how we can help.