What is a Shipping Crate Restaurant?


Did you know that if every shipping container on the planet were lined up, end to end, they would circle our globe twice? When you think of a shipping container, does your mind conjure up smoggy industrial yards and stacks upon stacks of what looks like a giant’s building blocks? You’ve likely never pictured this: a cozy, less than 1000 square foot café, nestled in—that’s right—one of such shipping crates. If you haven’t run into one of these trends yet, you will soon: the shipping crate restaurant.
Urban businesses have decided to upcycle a byproduct of heavy business and industrial commerce by making shipping crates inhabitable. You can find shipping crates that are home to coffee shops, bars, small restaurants, art studios, and more. This contemporary form of experimental marketing is finding more and more people on board.
What’s the point of a restaurant in a freight container? Well, you could ask Taco Bell, or Starbucks; those chains both have debuted so-called “pop up locations” in custom shipping containers. The shipping crate restaurant idea is perfect for mobile restaurant locations or in metropolitan areas where space for a full-fledged business can be hard to come by—such as in Washington, where Starbucks’ location appeared. The freight containers are low-maintenance and cheap to upkeep. Recycling enthusiasts love them, too; for each repurposed container, around 3,500 kilograms of steel are being reused.
The pop up containers are a novelty that attracts extra consumer traffic, too. People are flocking to these unique businesses to witness the hype of the shipping container studio, restaurant, or bar. The crates are popular at festivals and tradeshows for their interesting and economic appeal.
Of the 17 million shipping containers in the world, only 6 million are in use. There are countless crates available for this trendy and unique form of innovation. Just look at Las Vegas’ Downtown Container Park: it’s a neighborhood of shipping crate restaurants and other entrepreneurs that have taken up shop in one of the most unexpected places. The crates can mostly be found in large urban areas, but those in less populated regions have nothing to fear: the shipping crate restaurant will be coming to you soon, with all of its convenience, innovation, and mobility.

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