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Complete Guide to Shipping Container Bars

Complete Guide to Container Bars
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Have you ever had the dream of owning your own bar, but the thought of scouting locations and the outrageous costs overwhelmed you? Maybe you should consider opening a shipping container bar instead.

Shipping container bars have been a rising trend since around 2015. You can make just about anything out of a shipping container in an original and innovative way. 

To open a storage container bar, the costs are roughly 20-50% cheaper than opening a traditional brick-and-mortar bar. Keep reading if you want to know all the advantages and disadvantages of owning a shipping container bar.

Complete Guide to Container Bars 

shipping container bar with indoor and outdoor screens

Opening a business – whether it’s selling craft beer or a coffee shop – out of a pop-up container is every creative entrepreneur’s dream. It’s not only lower in costs, but there are other advantages and disadvantages in running a business out of a shipping container.

Advantages of Container Bars 

There’s a lot of advantages to creating storage container bars, including:

  • Shipping containers are a pre-built structure made out of durable material.
  • Recycling an old freight shipping container helps reduce waste.
  • It’s more cost-effective than buying or building a traditional brick-and-mortar business.
  • You can construct your bar to be stationary or portable.
  • Allows for a completely customized design, so you can be as creative as you want when designing your bar with these gems. 
  • Shipping containers can be versatile in their possibilities.

Shipping containers are virtually indestructible and can withstand even the most severe weather. If you decide to go mobile with your bar, you can travel to different venues and events instead of waiting for business to come to you.

But with every idea comes it’s disadvantages too, read on to learn more.

Disadvantages of Container Bars 

shipping container bar lacking desired element

Even if there are tons of advantages to owning a shipping container restaurant or bar, there’s a few setbacks to keep in mind as well:

  • Un-insulated containers generate a lot of heat due to the type of material it’s made from. 
  • Because these containers are built to last through severe weather and harsh conditions, they may be covered in harmful chemicals. This could be hazardous to your health.
  • They tend to rust.

Cost to Build a Container Bar 

The total cost to convert a shipping container into a bar depends on how decked out you want your bar and how many shipping containers you plan to use. 

The overall costs can range from as low as $25,000 to as high as $200,000. So you can make this as cost-effective or as extravagant as you’d like.

Inspirational Container Bars from Around the World 

Here are ten popular container bars around the world to draw inspiration from.

The Boxyard

The Boxyard shipping container bar
Source: boxyard

This unique eatery is located in Tuscan, Arizona. But, The Boxyard isn’t just one restaurant. They are more like a small community that has something to offer for everyone. They have four restaurants, two bars, a coffee shop, and a courtyard. There are a total of ten storage containers that are all painted a different bright color. 

The multi-colored containers are a great design for housing different ideas and go to show you can turn your business into an entire community. 

TREEBOX Container Restaurant

Treebox offers the best crowd for their space
Source: tripadvisor

TREEBOX Restaurant is the first shipping container restaurant to open in Bangkok, Thailand. They serve craft beer and have a lovely beer garden where they hold social events. The outdoor dining area is lit with a bunch of small lanterns, and it gives a relaxing atmosphere. 

The design is modern and minimalistic. It seems the only colors used to decorate are black and white. The entire restaurant is made from 22 storage containers, and some of them are stacked to create lofts.

Federalist Public House

federalist public house features recycled materials and great drinks
Source: pinterest

The Federalist Public House was one of the first shipping container bars. They opened in 2014 in the Maldonado family’s backyard in Sacramento, California, and have been serving customers on site ever since. 

The Federalist is a mobile pizzeria that accommodates events and parties for up to 150 people. 

The Federalist Public House is proof that you don’t need a bunch of storage containers and expensive decorations to run a successful pop-up bar.

Wahaca Southbank

Wahaca Southbank new standard shipping container bar concept
Source: archdaily

The Wahaca Mexican restaurant franchise is the first to become carbon neutral in the UK. They go the extra mile to minimize resources and provide clean, sustainable food for their patrons. 

The Wahaca Southbank is made of eight recycled shipping containers. They are stacked into two stories and painted bright colors. 

If you want to create a sustainable and environmentally friendly bar, check out their story of becoming carbon neutral for inspiration.

SteelCraft Garden Grove

SteelCraft garden grove accurately represents the LA brand
Source: steelcraftlb

This outdoor urban eatery started in 2017 in Long Beach, California, and has since opened up two more locations, including Garden Grove. 

They offer a variety of food and drink from local vendors and provide live music and community events to inspire people to come together.

SteelCraft Garden Grove provides unique family fun with its video game arcade. You can draw inspiration from their arcade and add extra entertainment to your container bar. 

Mozza & Co.

best quality pop ups with unique installations
Source: elypso

Mozza & Co. is a portable Italian restaurant located in Paris, France. They are minimalistic in design and very chic. The layout of this restaurant is much like a food truck.

This design is excellent if you want the container to house the bar and have your patrons gather outdoors. 

Container Brewing Ltd.

Container Brewing Ltd. attract attention in engaging way
Source: yelp

This brewery is located in Vancouver, Canada. The owners constructed this pub themselves from shipping containers. 

The Container Brewing Ltd is a stationary bar and has an inviting interior for people to gather. But while their restaurant isn’t portable, they pair up with Burdy food trucks to attend local events and festivals. 

Singapore Takeout

Singapore takeout conex box space
Source: inhabitat

If you want to make your bar portable, take a look at this container restaurant. The Singapore Takeout container restaurant travels all over the world.

They are focused on sharing innovative cuisine and the traditional food of Singapore. They keep their design simple to ease the setup and tear-down transition. 

The Singapore Takeout is a 20 ft container that is just their kitchen, so they have the room to create a wide range of food.

The Gulf – Orange Beach

structural engineers have every desired element included
Source: tripadvisor

This outdoor restaurant is located in Orange Beach, Alabama. You can create a beachside bar drawing inspiration from this design. 

They use bright colors and picnic-style tables on white beach sand. Even if you are located in colder climates, this is a great idea for a summer seasonal outdoor bar.

Doca Steak Burger

Doca steak burger brand modular container unit
Source: archdaily

This permanent structure is a burger restaurant located in Brazil. They constructed this high-quality burger joint from two large 40ft shipping containers.

They added an outdoor terrace for dining. This outdoor dining experience also accommodates families, so there is plenty of room for children to run around and play.

FAQ 

Here’s a quick roundup of the most commonly asked questions regarding container bars.

How much do shipping containers cost?

The cost of a single shipping container, regardless of size, can range from $1,500 to $4,000. 

What additional costs to open a container bar?

When you’re planning to open your container bar, you must factor in other costs like plumbing, electricity, inventory, and labor costs for contractors. These costs can vary between $20,000 to $200,000.

Are container bars portable?

The portability all depends on the size of the container you wish to use. If you want a portable bar, you should aim to get a container smaller than 40ft.

Conclusion 

Owning a pop-up bar is a great way to open a small bar that you can make stationary or portable. The flexible design and affordable construction compared to traditional buildings make the possibilities endless.

Ryan Stetson

Ryan Stetson

Currently own two 20' and 40' containers converted into an office/workshop. Having worked in the shipping industry for 6 years, my goal is to share my personal experiences as well as connect potential container buyers with suppliers around the US.

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