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Downtown SLO could welcome venue made of shipping containers

Toro and Higuera - Walking Entrance.jpg
Posted at 7:04 AM, Feb 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-03 10:06:52-05

NKT Chief Commercial Operating Officer, Paul Tompkins, proposed an outdoor dining venue in downtown San Luis Obispo made out of repurposed shipping containers.

Tompkins describes his vision for the project as an outdoor, family-friendly, pet-friendly, multiple-vendor food center using recycled shipping containers and one existing building. They are targeting lunch crowds in the office area, families and local professionals.

"There's a lot of people who are concerned about their safety with indoor dining, so we tried to create something that was focused toward outdoor dining," said Tompkins.

His proposal would also provide an affordable venue out of which local small businesses could operate.

"It's an expensive place to get a start. We think this can operate kind of like a hot house or an incubator for local small businesses," said Tompkins.

The proposed venue would go on the corner of Toro and Higuera Sts.

Two buildings are currently standing in the lot. One is a former tattoo parlor that will be demolished.

"The other structure that will remain is just a cinder block former garage. It's about 1400 square feet," said Tompkins.

They plan on re-purposing the former garage near the back of the lot for food vendors. Tompkins says being environmentally friendly is certainly part of their goal for this project.

Other cities including nearby Atascadero, Las Vegas, Phoenix, and many major cities in Europe have also successfully implemented re-purposed shipping container food courts and retail vendors. Tompkins intends to do the same here in San Luis Obispo.

Tompkins has an idea of what restaurants will operate out of the new venue, but can't name any of them yet, however, he says they are all local.

"This is a built locally and going to be run by local operators place, and it's going to hopefully serve our local community, particularly young professionals and families," said Tompkins.

The adjacent restaurant, Petra, says they think this proposal could help business.

"We're open to healthy competition. Maybe we give them customers, maybe they give us customers too," said Petra Manager Nellee Douglass.

It could also help the community, especially with supporting restaurants that are just starting out.

"SLO is all about small businesses and community, and I think it would help with that," said Douglass.

The proposal still has to go through the planning commission for the final approval. There is no official date set for when that will happen, but Tompkins hopes it will happen some time next month.

"Once they approve that, we'll have to go through and get a series of other approvals including our infrastructure approval, we'll have to get our grading, building permits, so we've got a long process ahead of us," said Tompkins.

For more information about the proposal and detailed images of the plan visit KSBY.