Leveraging your Container Restaurant’s Small Footprint


In the restaurant biz, location is a big factor. So, what happens when your perfect location is too small or too expensive to fit a full-size restaurant? Do you sacrifice a prime plot with tons of foot traffic for a larger space and less turnover? Common language in the industry would suggest that small is the enemy of successful restaurants. The payback is minimal and the challenges stack up. We’re talking big challenges; how does the kitchen operate? Where do you keep your storage? How does the size affect seating and customer service? We’re here to tell you, with some creative problem solving and design precision, we can make it work, sometimes better than a traditional sized restaurant. Our special formula keeps efficiency and customer service up, while keeping overhead way down.

Adjust your menu for equipment and efficiency

It’s never easy to have a large, complicated menu. However, when you have tons of space to play, the task can be more manageable. Without tons of room for lots of people at lots of stations, more thought needs to be given to individual items, how they’re prepared and how they need to be delivered.

If you already have an existing menu, paring down your menu to your most popular and simple items can make a huge difference. If you’re planning a completely new menu, look at back-of-house operations and investigate how technology can boost the accuracy, speed, and consistency of your menu. Could a different size blender make a difference? Could you benefit from reducing the number of cold or frozen ingredients?  Ultimately, this is all about making sure you don’t sacrifice your quality standard to fit into a smaller space. Sometimes that requires addition by subtraction. Your restaurant doesn’t have to be all things to all people, but it does need to be consistent and good enough to justify return business. Both of those are more than possible in a small footprint.

Give every inch a purpose

When utilizing a smaller space, it is absolutely imperative to be efficient with your use of every single inch of your real estate. Take inspiration from space innovators, IKEA. They’re whole business revolves around squishing everything you need for your home into a very small space. Do your tools need counterspace, or is there a way to utilize walls and the ceiling for easy-reaching and increased counter space?

To make the most of every surface, assigning and maintaining stations is so important to making these concepts work well. What does your customer need to have a great (albeit small) experience? Every restaurant is different, but knowing what you need and where it fits is part of our service. And we’ve put some amazing kitchens in some incredibly small containers.

Communicate with your customers

When a customer scans the horizon for something delicious to eat, you want them to land on your sign and your restaurant. How do most concepts stand out? Usually extremely large signs. But, when your footprint is small, you can’t always spring for the luxury of oversized signage. Luckily, size isn’t the only thing that matters.

Very often, sending the right message is more important than the biggest or loudest message, and that’s what we encourage our clients to focus on. Choose messaging with relevance, propose, and a call to action. Relocate or eliminate anything that’s not pertinent to your menu, your process, or your brand.

Bigger isn’t always better. If you reconcile your menu, design an efficient layout, and utilize messaging to attract and guide your customers, a shipping container restaurant could be a perfect fit for your small footprint concept. For more information about how we turn shipping containers into head-turning restaurants in half the time it takes stick-and-brick read our eBook Shipping Container Restaurants 101, or reach out to our staff through the contact form below.