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Main Blog The Ultimate Guide to Creating a Shipping Container Restaurant

The Ultimate Guide to Creating a Shipping Container Restaurant

December 29, 2022
Coast Containers

Shipping container restaurants and coffee shops are becoming more common due to their affordability and versatility. Whether it is an eatery or a cafe, these companies can offer consumers both convenience and comfort no matter where they might be located. However, before you build a shipping container restaurant, it is essential to weigh the pros and cons while forming a complete design and business plan. 

Why Use Shipping Containers For Your Restaurant

Shipping containers can provide entrepreneurs and business owners with an innovative way to create restaurants without investing in costly construction projects or dealing with lengthy permitting processes. Here is why shipping container restaurants and coffee shops are popular choices for many businesses. 

Cost-effectiveness: One of the most significant advantages of using a shipping container for a restaurant or coffee shop is that it is much more cost-effective than traditional building materials. Shipping containers are made of steel, which means they are incredibly durable and can last for decades with minimal maintenance. 

Sustainability: Shipping containers are also incredibly sustainable and are an environmentally friendly option for entrepreneurs who want to reduce their environmental footprint and positively impact the planet. Additionally, because they can be moved easily, you can relocate your business without purchasing new construction materials every time you need to move locations.

Flexibility: Another benefit of using a shipping container as the base material for your restaurant or coffee shop is flexibility. Their convenient sizes create a great starting point for creating any type of space you need, from tiny cafes to full-service restaurants, complete with kitchens, bars, dining areas, and even outdoor seating areas.


3 Popular Types and Styles of Shipping Container Restaurants 

Once you have decided to build a shipping container restaurant, the next thing to consider is which type of container restaurant will best meet your needs. With this guide, you now know what type might work best for you when it comes time to decide which kind will best suit your business model!

1. Food Truck Container Restaurants

This type of shipping container restaurant or coffee shop is typically set up like a food truck, with limited seating and minimal kitchen equipment. The idea behind these types of businesses is that they can be moved around easily, allowing them to serve customers in different locations. For example, if your business is attending a fair, event or farmers market. This style of container restaurants and coffee shops often focuses on one type of cuisine. For example, tacos or ice cream, since they do not have access to full kitchen equipment like ovens or stoves. 

2. Sit-down Dining Shipping Container Restaurants

If you want something more permanent, consider choosing a sit-down dining style. These are usually larger than food truck-style containers, allowing for more seating options and full kitchen facilities. Sit-down dining allows customers to enjoy their meals in a comfortable atmosphere instead of standing outside waiting for their orders. This type of container restaurant is perfect for those looking to open a full-service restaurant but want to avoid the expense of building from scratch. With this style, you can use multiple containers to create a larger space for your kitchen and dining area.

3. Café Style Container Restaurants  

Café container restaurants offer your customers outdoor seating where they can relax while enjoying their meals or drinks. This type of container is perfect for those looking to capitalize on outdoor trends such as al fresco dining or grab-n-go options like cold brew coffee or smoothies. This style typically features counter-style service rather than waitstaff service so staff members can focus on preparing food quickly while still providing quality customer service.  

Advantages of Creating Restaurants in Shipping Containers 

Shipping container restaurants are popping up all over the place. These buildings are generally small, with seating typically limited to about ten people or less. The advantage here is that they do not require large amounts of space or resources to construct. In addition, many cities have zoning regulations that restrict full-scale construction projects.

The size and shape of these container buildings also make them ideal for outdoor dining areas. In warm weather climates, many restaurants opt to use their shipping containers as patios, allowing customers to enjoy their meals while soaking in the sunshine and taking in some fresh air. 

Benefits of Creating Coffee Shops in Shipping Containers 

Shipping containers are also being used in coffee shops all over the world. This type of business model has become particularly popular with mobile cafes—cafes that move from location to location depending on their needs—as it allows them to quickly set up shop wherever they happen to be at any given time. The small size also makes them ideal for urban locations where space is limited but demand is high. 

How to Design a Shipping Container Restaurant or Coffee Shop

Whether you decide to keep it simple with one large container or combine several and stack them on top of each other, there is plenty of room for creativity with shipping containers. Here is a quick guide for designing the best restaurant or dining space using shipping containers. Please keep in mind that depending on the type of container restaurant, location, and business model, some of the following suggestions will be more or less relevant to your needs. 

Step 1: Start Designing Your Shipping Container Restaurant Space 

Start by considering what kind of design aesthetic and atmosphere you want to create. For example, some restaurants prefer a cozy, homey environment, and others want something sleeker and more modern. Whatever style you choose, make sure your design reflects your restaurant’s identity and overall theme. Start thinking about what colours you want to paint your container, as well as what will fit in nicely to your location. For example, bright colours are fantastic for drawing attention and fitting in with a summer or colourful environment. 

Before starting any construction, ensure all necessary permits are obtained from local authorities. You may also need to invest in a generator if there is no power supply at the site. 

Step 2: Interior Shipping Container Restaurant or Coffee Shop Design Elements  

Once the necessary permits are in place, you can start designing the interior of your shipping container. When planning your space, it is vital to think about how your employees and customers will move around the area. This means creating an efficient layout that allows easy access between seating areas, kitchens, bathrooms and more. 

Step 3: Consider Container Modifications and Installations 

Start by thinking about how much space you need for seating, equipment and storage. You should install windows so that customers can enjoy natural light while they are inside. For example, adding sliding glass doors with access ramps can improve accessibility for people with disabilities. 

Additionally, you will need to consider what type of furniture and fixtures you want to include, such as tables, chairs and lighting fixtures. If your budget allows for it, consider installing air conditioning or heating units as well as soundproof insulation. This will help keep out noise from outside sources. Finally, plan out where all equipment, such as ovens and refrigerators, will be located so that everything fits within the limited space provided by the containers. Also, remember to add exterior signage with lights so that people can easily find your business at night time.   

Step 4: Creating an Outdoor Area For Customers

If you have space, create an outdoor area for customers to enjoy their meals outside. An outdoor area is great for customers to enjoy their meals outside. You can also use this area for extra seating or even host events. This is perfect for warmer environments and busy areas in your community, such as near popular beaches, outdoor events, and tourist attractions. Also, if you want you can install outdoor heaters. These will allow people can eat outside during the cooler evenings or during the colder months of the year. Make sure you meet the local regulations regarding noise levels! 

Step 5: Adding Technology To Your Container Coffee Shop or Restaurant 

Technology is often overlooked when opening up a new business, but having the right technology in place can make all the difference in customer experience and efficiency. For example, consider adding payment systems such as digital wallets or touchless payments, which allow customers to pay without physical contact. This can help reduce queues at busy times and increase customer satisfaction. Many coffee shop owners provide free wifi so that their customers can use their laptops to work on projects or connect with their friends online while they drink their favourite coffees and teas. This is a great way to attract people who will spend plenty of time at your cafe and may order multiple items each time they visit. 

Final Thoughts 

Shipping containers provide an exciting way to start a restaurant or coffee shop without a considerable upfront budget. By carefully planning out the size of the containers needed as well as interior design elements, you can create a unique space that is both functional and aesthetically pleasing at the same time! 

Coast Containers has several container sizes, types, accessories, and modifications available across Canada to help you create a restaurant with shipping containers. Give us a call or reach out to us online to learn more about our custom modifications and container options.

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