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shipping container pop up cafe

Why a pop-up shipping container cafe could be a better deal for entrepreneurs than a fixed location building.

Location has always been a very tricky nut to crack for any business; but particularly so for cafe owners.

Get it right and you have lots of footfall passing by each day letting you build up a loyal base of customers. Get it wrong however, and your cafe will quickly become a solemn place with your staff waiting around for customers, rather than waiting on tables.

Even the best market research, which tells you how perfect a location could be still isn’t a guarantee. Getting the perfect spot for your business can be tough.

With the UK restaurant industry worth an estimated £40 billion there’s plenty of opportunity and also profit to be made though.

The 6 main problems with a fixed location cafe:

  • High initial cost. Large deposits, guarantees and advance rent all need to be paid up front, which can be a big drain on your cash flow!
  • No physical assets – all of your rent is dead money.
  • Lost capital from all of the fixtures and fittings that you need to make the cafe ready for customers. These can’t easily be pulled up and moved to a new location if you are renting fixed buildings.
  • Unscrupulous landlords changing the rules of your tenancy agreement to their advantage, when you renew your tenancy with them.
  • Inflexibility when it comes to special events and temporary opportunities. An additional mobile unit would be needed to give you a presence at a festival or attraction.

Advantages of a pop-up cafe

  • If a location doesn’t work out, you can simply move your cafe to another spot – you have a business in a box!
  • It’s usually much less expensive to buy and outfit a container than it would be to do the same thing with a traditional building.
  • It’s easy to increase the size of a container restaurant; all you need to do is add another container.
  • A container cafe looks unique meaning it will catch your customers’ attention instantly.
  • Even if your business is unsuccessful a pop-up container cafe has resale value, so whatever happens you own an asset that’s actually worth something .
  • Rather than renting a fixed building, you would just need the land, which can save you money!

shipping container pop-up cafe

pop-up cafe made from shipping container

shipping container pop up cafe

pop up cafe made from shipping containes

Even raw looking second hand containers are proving a hit


Pop-up cafe’s provide a very attractive alternative to a traditional building for entrepreneurs, especially start-ups.

We have seen that pop-up shipping container cafe’s can be moved to any location whilst being customer-ready at a moment’s notice. They also allow you to sidestep high street landlords who could unfairly hike rent just as your business gets successful.

A pop-up cafe might be your perfect opportunity to create a footloose presence in the hospitality sector, while protecting you from a lot of the high start-up costs associated with a fixed location site.

So what’s going to be on your cafe menu?

Get a pop-up container quote

Editors note: Adaptainer converted the pop-up cafe / food vending container shown above and in the video but not the ice cream vendor unit displayed in this post.

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