Food right out of the can: NB’s coolest new restaurant is made from a shipping container

A restaurant made out of a shipping container with open walls and a wooden deck.  Wooden stairs lead to the rooftop, which also has a desk and tables.  The covered bridge sits in the background.
Hartland’s newest restaurant is twelve82, which sits on the banks of the St. John River overlooking the famous Hartland Covered Bridge. The canteen is made from a shipping container, and takes its name from the length of the bridge: 1,282 feet. (Sam Farley/CBC)

New Brunswick has long branded itself as “the picture province,” and the town of Hartland is where many of those pictures were taken.

The community of just under 1,000 residents is nestled on the wide banks of the St. John River, its rolling hills and farmland define the landscape.

But if you’re from New Brunswick, you know why this place is famous.

Hartland boasts the world’s longest covered bridge, clocking in at 1,282 feet, or nearly 400 meters.

That length is directly connected to the name of a new restaurant called twelve82, located just down the river from the Hartland Covered Bridge, which is also a national historic site.

While the covered bridge harkens back to an earlier time, this restaurant takes on a trendy new design: it’s made of a shipping container.

Calling it simple but functional, twelve82’s owner, Caleb Cook, is all smiles as a new restaurant operator.

“We ran a contest on our social media page, and it was pretty clear that we obviously wanted to tie up [the name] into the bridge,” Cook said.

WATCH | Learn why an aspiring restaurant turned a shipping container into an eatery:

Ever had lunch in a shipping container? Now you can in this NB town

Caleb Cook, the owner of a new restaurant in Hartland, NB, explains why he chose to build his business in a shipping container.

“The first week was awesome, right from the first day we opened, the first hour, everyone supported us really well,” Cook said.

Customers can smash burgers, poutine, chicken or salmon rice bowls, and even a fish taco.

A desire for something new

Changes in plans led to their opening day weekend falling on a busy Canada Day, a thought that would strike fear in the hearts of even the most seasoned restaurants.

But Cook is no veteran restaurateur, and he’d be more at home selling you a semi truck than a burger.

He can often be found on the road at Valley Equipment Ltd., selling transport trucks and trailers, but wants to dip his feet into the restaurant business to add something new to his beloved town.

“I was born and raised here, my family is all from here, it’s my hometown. We wanted to bring something to the community that we don’t have in this area,” Cook said.

While the container might be a new sight on the Hartland landscape, it takes full advantage of the town’s famed bridge.

A kitchen and waitstaff are at one end of the 12-metre container, and the other side’s walls are opened up.

A wooden deck extends the dining room out of the container, and stairs invite guests up to picnic tables on the roof.

Wherever you sit, shade or sun, a view of the famous covered bridge is the main show.

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