Shipping containers have to be retired after five years of use and those past their prime often sit abandoned in shipyards.

Architects for years have played with repurposing the sturdy boxes for everything from affordable housing to museums. But now they’re setting their sights on restaurants.

Red Fish, Blue Fish in Victoria, British Columbia, sailed ahead of the curve in 2007 with its waterfront sustainable seafood shack in a container that once transported cars.  In 2009, the lime green View Tube started serving cafe fare on a hill overlooking the site of the 2012 Olympics in London. But other cafes and bars are just jumping on the trend.

Next on the agenda? Hayes Valley, California, ice cream purveyors Smitten are nearly finished work on their shipping container ice cream stand. In downtown Brooklyn, NY, Dekalb Market this summer will band together a small village of shipping containers to shill fresh produce, food and coffee. And architects in Austin, Texas, have drawn up plans for a multi-level shipping container bar called – what else? – Container Bar.

We dig the idea of this eco-friendly reuse of materials. It's easy to justify buying another ice cream cone when its supporting sustainability!