Build Your Own Shipping Container Restaurant


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Shipping Container Restaurants

Shipping container restaurants have turned into promising opportunities for budding entrepreneurs. These highly popular versatile designs have changed the definition of a 'meal-in-a-box.'


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The Rise of Container Restaurants

When it comes to the dining experience, people tend to look beyond the food that you offer. Your customers appreciate when you put thought into building your dining space. As a restaurant owner, it's essential you manage your budget efficiently and build a sustainable business.

A container unit restaurant offers affordable solutions to these challenges. It is no surprise that international chains like Taco Bell, Starbucks, and Subway have created restaurants of their own.

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How to Build Shipping Container Restaurants

Pop-up cafes, bars, and coffee shops are fast and easy to build from containers. They are also highly customizable. If you're looking to build your dining business, the following steps will help you get started:

  • Choose the Right Unit Size: The shipping container you select will depend on what you intend on serving. Food service buildings can range from full-service kitchens that prepare food on-site, to a coffee shop that only serves prepackaged food and coffee.
  • Pick a Strategic Location: Always select a spot that can help you cater to a large crowd. Check for compliance with local zoning and permit requirements. Some areas may not allow you to put up shipping containers as they are a special type of construction.
  • Consult a Builder or Architect: Talk to a construction expert who specializes in modifying containers and can recommend design options. They can also guide with ventilation, new concepts for structures, and sustainable building materials for your project.
  • Build an Innovative Brand: Choose the right font, logo, and decor to build a unique brand for your diner or coffee shop. Use social media platforms to connect with your target group.
  • Contact a Seasoned Container Provider: Find a provider who has experience supplying units in different sizes for custom projects like yours. 

Get in touch with our team of specialists and find the right shipping containers for your restaurant idea.


What is the Cost of Building a Container Restaurant?


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The cost of building a shipping container restaurant depends on the following factors:

Size and Condition of The Unit

Containers generally range from 10 feet to 40 feet in length, with varying prices. Expenses will also depend on whether you use a repurposed unit or build a shipping container cafe from scratch using parts of these steel boxes.


Design costs include those for conceptual rendering, layout and interior drawings, architectural and engineering reviews, makeup air calculations, compliance, and consultancy charges if you hire an expert.


Electrical panels, plumbing equipment, and air conditioning can add to your expenses as you customize your space.
Compared to regular diners, a container cafe or diner is more affordable for you as an owner because it takes out the cost of leasing expensive commercial spaces. Barring construction expenses, there is no significant difference in the cost of utilities, kitchen equipment, and inventory.

View deals on used shipping containers for sale at cost-effective prices.

What Kinds of Dining Experiences Can You Create with Shipping Containers?

Here are some food experiences you can offer by modifying a unit:

Coffee Shops

Coffee shops are ideal for small business owners as they don't require major capital upfront. A set of coffee machines can help you offer your services on the go.


Modify and transform the unit into a cafe or diner where people can grab a quick bite. Cafes give you the convenience to serve prepackaged food as well as fresh items on your menu.


You can serve a full-fledged bar menu from your pop-up restaurant. Most container bars provide a mix of indoor-outdoor seating, which attracts a lot of people. 


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What are the Benefits of Container Restaurants?

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Since most container units follow modular construction, you save the time and effort that goes into regular construction techniques. You do not have to buy or rent an existing property for your restaurant; instead, you can retrofit a prebuilt unit at minimum prices. You also have fewer labor hours and material costs.


These units grant you the freedom to move your shop wherever you like. If you are not getting the desired results in one place, you can always move to a different spot and give your food service a fresh start. You can also haul these units, like food trucks and move to different locations and to maximize on festivals and big events.


Designers can provide you with many different ideas to suit your specific needs. You can use fancy fonts, vibrant colors, or build a new, unique concept from scratch for your restaurant to stand out. Containers offer the choice to modify interiors to create custom seating or add more kitchen storage space, the way you like.

Robust Construction

Shipping container construction provides high durability and strength for your diner's structure. Its body is made of Corten steel, which makes it resistant to external weathering. 


Many coffee shops and diners are made from recycled units that would otherwise go to waste.  You can also make modifications to add solar panels, use natural ventilation, and select a spot close to utilities for maximum energy efficiency.

Some Popular Shipping Container Diners

Muvbox Fastfood, Montreal

The Muvbox made an impression with a highly portable restaurant that the owners could transport by road, sea, and rails. Though it has closed, Muvbox made a mark as a solar-powered restaurant that served some amazing food.

Les Grandes Tables, Seguin Islands, Paris

With a glass roof and timber combined with scaffolding and containers, you can enjoy fresh air, sunshine, and the aroma of fresh vegetables growing in the 1,000-square-foot patch surrounding this unique project.

High Rise Subway, Freedom Tower, New York

This Subway franchise features three stacked shipping containers joined to a building. Those who work in the building can enjoy food (and the view) at any level without having to go down during breaks. 

Till the Cows Come Home, Berlin

This eatery shut in 2015 but still stands out as a quaint, efficient shop space serving vegan-friendly food. A large window displays a mural of cows grazing in the alpine pasture, serving as the inspiration for its name.



The low initial investment, high flexibility, lower build time, and the freedom to choose your own place make container structures ideal for restaurant owners to kickstart business, live the dream, and can make a huge impression on patrons.

Why Mobile Modular Portable Storage?

We offer new and used shipping containers at reasonable prices.
Call 866-459-7600 and talk to a dedicated sales representative who will help you, from inquiry to delivery. We also own a fleet of vehicles that let us deliver your units at the scheduled times and avoid delays.


How Much Does a Shipping Container Restaurant Cost?

Total costs vary a lot depending on facilities, size, and equipment. For instance, a 20 ft. container unit could cost you between $90,000-$110,000 for design and build-out. Square foot costs will change if you choose additional equipment, utilities, and landscaping.

How Much Does It Cost to Transport a Shipping Container?

The pick-up and transportation expenses depend on the unit's size and the distance from the provider's facility to your drop-off location.

Do Containers Get Hot Inside?

Yes, they can get hot. But these steel boxes work fine when you fit them with the right ventilation systems to avoid the build-up of heat and moisture. 

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