It’s the question on everyone’s mind right now. Not, “Who are you voting for?” (we’re real tired, man, and that conversation is exhausting whether you’re talking to like-minded folks or not), but, “What am I supposed to do once it snows?” A close second is, “Is there even time left to do anything?”
RoxBox, a Denver manufacturing company that’s been turning shipping containers into offices, tiny homes, restaurant kitchens, and bars for a couple of years now, is hoping the answers are, “Call us!” and “Absolutely!” It’s throwing its hat into the (increasingly crowded) outdoor winter dining ring with PatioBox, a line of shipping containers modified to serve as semi-permanent enclosed patios this winter and for seasons to come.
Chief marketing officer Renaldo Gonzalez notes the concept was designed with Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment guidelines in mind. The line comprises four models:
- Small: a single 20-foot, double-door shipping container (entrances are on both ends of the structure) that is 160 square feet
- Medium: a single 40-foot container with 320 square feet and a single entrance on one end
- Large: two 40-foot containers with a single entrance, a 10-foot cutout for light and ventilation, and 640 square feet
- XL: two 40-foot, double-door containers, three cutouts (with tarps), and 640 square feet
All models come wired for electricity and with lights and radiant heaters (so your guests get a “homey industrial” vibe instead of a “shootout down at the docks” vibe). Upgrades include additional cutouts (windows or doors) and heaters, sound baffles, flooring, exterior lights, speakers, and roll-up or garage doors.
For restaurants and bars already strapped for cash, base purchase prices ranging from $8,500 to $35,000 may seem like the proverbial last straw, but Gonzalez points to the long-term development potential of the PatioBox. A rooftop deck can be added to take advantage of warmer weather, and with some structural reinforcement, containers can even be stacked. And because they can be loaded onto a tow or trailer truck, they’re technically (if not obviously) mobile and can be transported to offsite events like music or beer festivals—if and when they return. They’re also considered a depreciating asset for tax purposes.
Interested parties that aren’t yet ready to shell out the full purchase price can opt for six- or twelve-month rentals. Six-month rates will run you $1,050 to $4,400 per month; if you’re willing to commit to a full year lease, you’ll spend $750 to $3,400 per month. RoxBox is also considering a plan to offer the first month of rental free, and financing is available for buyers. You can find detailed pricing info on the company’s Facebook page.
Gonzalez acknowledges permitting differs from city to city, but says the municipalities RoxBox has worked with seem anxious to get the structures permitted before cold weather sets in. He emphasizes to local governments that PatioBox is mobile and not a permanent structure; he describes it as a “metal tent” and leans in hard on the fact it’s a solution that will help buoy local businesses through the winter.
Currently, RoxBox is working on installing its first PatioBox at Spirit Hound Distillers in Lyons. Head distiller Craig Engelhorn confirms the town has been extremely receptive. He notes it’s been only about a week from first hearing about the PatioBox to a meeting with Lyons’ fire marshal and building inspector. “This isn’t honestly what I want to spend our money on,” says Engelhorn, “[but] it will more than double the number of tables and we can continue to support our bar staff. The town and Renaldo have been working together….Lyons has been great to work with.”
RoxBox is also in the process of meeting with the Denver officials to get a pre-approval stamp. And with just a two- to three week turnaround to build and install the PatioBox (dependent, of course, on whether you’ve made friends with your fire marshal recently), you still have time to get one set up before the snow flies.
Would you consider the PatioBox for winter dining? Let us know why (or why not) by emailing email@example.com.