On my last two visits to Denver, I’ve had lunch at two new venues that involve shipping containers. I’m not sure where this trend started, but it’s hitting the Mile High City in the form of Avanti Food & Beverage and Cart-Driver and offers a unique option for groups.
Avanti, Denver’s first collective eatery and restaurant incubator concept, has a space that offers the most potential for groups and is based in the LoHi neighborhood. There are seven eateries (each one self-contained in a shipping container) located in the former Avanti Print and Graphics building that are anchored by shared seating, two attractive bar areas and a rooftop patio with great views of the city skyline. The Avanti food hall model allows both emerging and established chefs and restaurateurs to test concepts in a controlled environment that costs a fraction of what it would take to launch a traditional brick and mortar restaurant. The intention is to have concepts rotate in and out.
For groups, imagine attendees having seven restaurants to choose from and plenty of space on two floors and outdoors to mingle.
Cart-Driver is a slightly different concept, and it’s immediately clear you are in and around shipping containers as the entire small complex in Denver’s RiNo arts district is fashioned from them. The Cart-Driver team is made up of the same people behind Boulder's Basta. There isn’t a lot of room to wiggle in the restaurant’s 640-square-foot space other than to order and a few places for seating, but a connected patio, adjoining courtyard and upper-floor patio are where the options for groups really happen. I would like to see these options decorated for a gathering as the potential for transforming the urban feel to something really unique is certainly there. Plus, Cart-Driver also has a mobile wood-fire pizza wagon that travels around the state.
The business’s name was inspired by the carrettiera, or cart-driver, who brought goods from southern Italy’s farms to its villages via horse-drawn cart, serving dishes along the way. Cart-Driver specializes in serving wood-fired pizzas, fresh oysters, prosecco on tap, seasonal market plates, local brews and more.
I’m looking forward to seeing what other shipping container concepts pop up in Denver and around the state. Know of any others? Keep me posted by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.