Storage Container Street Food: The Revolution of Portable Vendors

The container village on Gateshead’s Quayside is one of the newest additions to the banks of the River Tyne. By The River Brew Co is an “independent container community” that contains a collection of 15 independent food vendors selling everything from pizza to oysters, as well as the more upmarket Trakol restaurant. Similarly, in Newcastle’s city centre, the recent £1.5 million development STACK holds an ‘enchanted garden’, a cocktail bar, and restaurants offering world food.

A Lifeline for Independent Businesses

This sudden rise in portable vendors comes hand in hand with the growing popularity of converted storage containers which many have said is offering a lifeline to smaller, independent businesses in the food and beverage sector. The first of its kind, Boxpark in Shoreditch, opened back in 2011 followed by Boxpark Croydon in 2016. Since then, storage container parks have proliferated throughout the UK and are offering central locations without the lengthy lease and often without the costly overheads that come with being located in a city.

The latest Local Data Company report states that up to 11.3% of all retail and leisure space in the UK’s towns and cities is vacant.  In turn, the amount that consumers are spending has dropped and smaller businesses are struggling to keep up with the rat race.  Despite that, the majority of storage container developments have only been built on a temporary lease. STACK, for example, has been granted planning permission until 2021.

How Easy is it to Convert a Container?

For those looking toward shipping containers as an alternative accommodation solution, the process is as follows:

  • Taking note of your specific requirements and deciding how the container needs to be customised to suit its intended purpose.
  • Consulting a structural engineer or an architect that can draw up design plans and help you to understand which foundations are best suited.
  • Discussing planning permissions with your local authority to ensure that your plans are legal.
  • Hiring construction workers to get the necessary utilities, fittings, and fixtures up and running.

One of the best examples of this that we’ve seen is Burger Bear, an independent burger bar in London that was made entirely from Mobile Mini storage containers. Set on Shoreditch’s new ‘Magic Roundabout’ development, this is a perfect example of a small business that is opting for cost-effective shipping containers rather than to take on an expensive lease in the city.