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Old 04-15-2019, 06:38 PM   #1
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Airstream as coffee shop?

Hi all-first time poster here. I have searched the forums, and read though the threads regarding food truck conversions. I have a modified version of that question with enough of a divergence from the standard "can I convert to food truck?" to warrant a thread. (I think!)

I am considering converting an Airstream to be run as a coffee house/satellite office space in the summers. Two things that make it non-standard:

1-It would live on a lot that I own. Essentially, it could be only quasi-mobile and not hinder it's usage.

2-It would be gutted. I wouldn't care about the condition of the interior; I'd want to strip it down to as close to a box as possible.

It would also be parked within 30 ft of a building I own, with electric/water. My neighbor is a propane retailer.

The only criteria I'd need to meet is A)water tight, or can live outside year-round without leaking, and B) ideally have an internal clear height of 7'. People won't want to use this if they can't at least stand up in it.

I have no idea if this would work or not, thus I figured I'd ask here. All feedback is welcome!!

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Old 04-15-2019, 06:57 PM   #2
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All entirely feasible depending on the amount of money you want to spend. What size trailer would you buy (probably at least 30 feet) and how much $s to renovate it?

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Old 04-15-2019, 07:37 PM   #3
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Old 04-16-2019, 06:13 AM   #4
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i think that's a cool idea; it could be a drive thru or a walk-up. You could put some chairs and tables outside and serve sandwiches or something too. Also, if you set it up as non-portable, you will have to do something about the tires.. maybe jack up the trailer so the tires are hanging a little off the ground?
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Old 04-16-2019, 09:59 AM   #5
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“coffee shop”

This was located at Germany airport, Nuremberg, I think?
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Old 04-16-2019, 10:06 AM   #6
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Thanks all! I don't have a fixed budget. Obviously I'd want to be into the trailer for as little as possible(how cheap does a 25-30' airstream get if the internals don't matter?)

Yes, likely have it live on jack stands or something of the like.

It would live if a perfect location to have lawn chairs and such set up outside.

I'm a fairly handy guy, with experience in both cars and construction, so I'm confident I could frame out etc whatever needed to be done, IF the thing could be done for a reasonable price.

Where's the best place to look for a dry shell?
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Old 04-16-2019, 11:40 AM   #7
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Beer Trailer

Here's a beer/cocktail trailer we're working on for a gentleman in Illinois. Complete with serving hatch and foldout oak serving shelf.
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Old 04-16-2019, 11:53 AM   #8
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This folks specialize in custom Airstream Trailers

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Old 04-16-2019, 12:02 PM   #9
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This kind of thing has been done by others, but you'd have to run the numbers carefully. The bit limitation on coffee shops is that people show up, spend $3 on a cuppa, and then occupy one of your limited seats for 3 hours as they peck away at their notebooks. Meanwhile, other paying customers are displaced. Quickly you can see how non-viable that is.

A walk-up with perhaps a rain canopy would reduce that kind of pressure. That's the model that Hey Cupcake! appears to be using in Austin, and they have survived financially for at least a few years now. Two-minute vid here, not much focus on the Airstream per se.
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Old 04-16-2019, 12:20 PM   #10
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Bear in mind OP that you don't necessarily need to go low-end on the business model. If you have the space, the utilities, and the authority to park it, you could for instance create a professional lease space of sorts (although I cannot advise you on what such a contract would look like).

I showed up one day to the office of my former CPA only to find her with a huge poo-eating smirk on her face. "Guess what I just got?" she crowed. "An Airstream!"

She converted it into a tax office, and thus the space was capable of hosting activities that generated far more revenue than any consumer food or gadget outlet. (And incidentally, I decided on that day that at some point, I, too would have an Airstream that I can work out of -- and about a dozen years later, I finally did.)

Here's a Wall Street Journal article on it (given its age, it should not be paywalled). Bear in mind that this was 2003, so upcycling an old Airstream was a new and unusual thing to do back then.

Later when she built a boutique hotel, her Airstream tax office was hoisted onto the roof of it. Here's a link to that story where the New York Times photo shows her still with that same poo-eating smirk on her face.
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Old 04-16-2019, 02:00 PM   #11
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Coffee shop

Here’s an inspirational success story about a very special woman and her restaurant that evolved at one point from a vintage 1965 AS.

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