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Restaurants and Bars

Project in Review – Alter Brewing Company – Outdoor Dining & Drinking Reinvented

Since the pandemic, bars and restaurants have had to get creative. Dining establishments have utilized a variety of strategies to keep their doors open while remaining compliant with safety protocol. One such strategy has been an emphasis on outdoor dining. Borrowing from the tiny house, food truck and pop-up bar trends, bars and restaurants around the country have begun using repurposed shipping containers for flexibility in navigating a changing cuisine landscape.

There are numerous examples in the Chicagoland market alone. Two years ago, popular West Loop mainstay Recess debuted a 14,500 square-foot patio space flanked by 30 shipping containers to accommodate outdoor diners. Boxville, a five-year old marketplace in the Bronzeville neighborhood exclusively featuring shipping container storefronts, is home to a variety of eateries. This includes Southside Grinds, a walk-up coffee stand, Synergy Foods, a boutique produce market, and Conscious Plates, an alkaline-based restaurant focused on all-natural health foods.

As the modified shipping container trend continues to take off in the bar and restaurant industry, expect more and more restaurateurs to join in – including breweries and distilleries! Take, for example, our client Alter Brewing Company. The beer-maker has a brewery and taproom at its original Downers Grove location, and a brewery-kitchen combo at its St. Charles location.

Alter wanted to incorporate an outdoor component to the St. Charles location, which overlooks the Fox River. They constructed a two-story bar from two 20’ shipping containers, double stacked to form an outdoor patio with a fantastic view of the Fox River. The bottom container is a service bar where guests can order drinks, and the second story container serves as a hangout area and observation balcony where guests can relax and enjoy their craft beers.

The engagement included collaboration with Dacre & Youngquist and Bramco Construction Company, Alter’s engineering-architectural team. Several discussions took place with both firms, during which Advantage Structures offered best practice considerations and suggestions on design and construction operations.

Advantage Structures was responsible for supplying two new 20’ shipping containers, as well as performing the structural modifications. Additional modification services included completion of all electrical work, painting, and interior finishes, as well as fabricating the exterior staircase and landing. Advantage performed all of the interior plumbing installations including sinks, on-demand hot water heaters, and sanitation stations.

Transportation of the modified containers to Alter’s St. Charles location was provided by Advantage Structures’ sister company, Vaccaro Trucking. Advantage Structures’ skilled technicians performed the on-site setup, which included assembly, stacking the containers one on top of the other, and welding the staircase.

See below for pictures of the final completed project.