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The Rise of Shuckin’: How Our Oyster Bar Franchise Turned FUN Into Business!

delicious sustainably sourced seafood

Ahhh, the thought of fresh seafood. Appetizing, isn’t it? These thoughts usually involve you sitting on a beach on an island somewhere having fresh seafood while staring out at the dreamy blue ocean, savoring the dish in all its magnificence, and maybe having a cocktail or two. Other times, it might awaken thoughts of reeling in a fresh tuna somewhere out in the Pacific.

Too bad most seafood restaurants don’t evoke the same feelings of carefree enjoyment. In fact, you may think that only two types of seafood restaurants exist. One is the snooty, white-tablecloth, jacket-and-tie type of affair where you’ll typically have to drop an entire paycheck just to get a meal. Want a drink with that? Then you’ll have to work some overtime. Some dessert, sir? Well, for that you’ll have to work a month extra, and maybe sell an organ!

The other is the greasy fast-food joints that serve deep-fried mystery fish where every bite is a gamble. Thinking of ordering something other than the fish? Then you better be sure your medical insurance is in order because it could turn out nasty.

This doesn’t sound like smooth sailing, does it? Well, that’s where Shuckin’ Shack comes in. We don’t care about white tablecloths, jackets, and ties- we’re more “flip-flops” than “fancy-pants!” No matter what you wear, though, you can bet your monthly catch on the quality of our sustainably sourced seafood. Heck, it even beats the fanciest joints in town, and, what’s more, we have a lot more fun along the way.

You see, the thing is, more people want this kind of laid-back atmosphere when they go out to eat. And because of this, there is an increased demand for a fun oyster bar franchise like Shuckin’ Shack where patrons don’t need to worry about dressing up or eating snails in the right way a-la Pretty Woman.

Why is this? What makes Shuckin’ Shack so successful? Here, we’ll give you the answers and show you why having fun is better for the customer and for the Shuckin’ Shack Oyster Bar Franchise Owner.

Catching Up on the History of Shuckin’ Shack

So, how exactly did Shuckin’ Shack start? Allow us to reel you in with our epic origin story!

Picture it- Carolina Beach, 2007. Our co-Founders Matt Piccinin and Sean Cook had a craving for fresh oysters. Living in a sleepy coastal town in North Carolina, they obviously figured it shouldn’t be too much of a problem to find an oyster bar. Well, what do you know, they were wrong!

Getting over the initial disappointment, they also immediately realized that there was an unmet need in the local restaurant scene for an oyster bar and seafood restaurant. 

Working their way meticulously through cases of beer and scribbling plans for their seafood empire on napkins, their dream began to take shape and finally materialized in them opening the first 900 square-foot Shuckin’ Shack. It made domestic seafood, cold beer, and laid-back fun the order of the day. So, yes, the Shuckin’ Shack Oyster Bar franchise was created because of something we’ve all experienced at one point…a craving for oysters!

Not surprisingly, everything went well, and Shuckin’ Shack was an instant hit with the locals who came to always get their beer and seafood fix during the day.

Along the way, Shuckin’ Shack also racked up quite a few awards that show how much people like it. Check it out:

          • Best in Seafood – West County Living Reader’s Choice.
          • Best in Seafood – Rowan County.
          • Best Taste Award – Share the Table.
          • Best Seafood Restaurant – Somerville Journal Scene.
          • Best Oysters – Encore Magazine.
          • Best in Seafood – Forsyth County News.
          • Best New Restaurant – North Brunswick Chamber of Commerce.
          • Best Raw Bar – Wilmington Magazine.
          • Top 22 Seafood Dives in America – Coastal Living Magazine.
          • Best Bloody Marys- ‘Shack Attack’ – Party Wilmington

Things started to really take off, though, when Jonathan Weathington joined the crew in 2014 as CEO. 

With JW’s background, there was no way that Shuckin’ Shack would not become a successful oyster bar franchise. To get the ball rolling, the first Shuckin’ Shack franchise opened in Somerville, South Carolina in 2015. We haven’t looked back since and have expanded to 16 locations across 5 states…and counting! 

own a seafood franchise

Why is Our Oyster Bar Franchise a Big Catch?

The reason for Shuckin’ Shack’s popularity is partly because of its positioning in the market and changing consumer demands. Now, that sounds a bit too “businessy” and complicated, so rather look at the figures to see what we mean:

      • In 2017 alone, Americans ate about 9.9 billion pounds of fish and shellfish which is up 3.6% from 2016
      • 42% of consumers are swapping other types of meat for seafood in an effort to eat and be healthier.
      • Up to 70% of all seafood bought in the United States is consumed in restaurants.
      • While 56% of Americans eat seafood at least twice a month, only 28% of those that eat seafood feel confident in their abilities to prepare it themselves. This means they look for good seafood restaurants.
      • An oyster bar franchise like Shuckin’ Shack is in a niche category of an already underrepresented seafood segment. This means that, in the $4.1 billion casual dining industry, there is little to no competition for Shuckin’ Shack.

Now, those numbers are just staggering, and as we said, it partly explains why Shuckin’ Shack is so popular. But numbers only tell part of the story, so it’s not only what Shuckin’ Shack serves but how it serves it that casts its net for bigger, national success.

As of late, people around the world have also been looking at things like environmental conservation and sustainability more and more when choosing which products to buy- and which restaurants to frequent. Our commitment to only serving sustainably sourced, responsibly-fished domestic seafood gets environmentally-conscious seafood fans on the hook, while the amazing quality and freshness of our seafood keeps them swimming back to shore for more! 

Also, as we’ve said before, the idea of Shuckin’ Shack was born out of a need in our co-Founders’ local community for an oyster bar and seafood restaurant. Now, to fulfill that need you don’t necessarily have to focus on a new product offering- using an existing product delivered in a new way can lead to the same results. So, in other words, there’s nothing wrong with making something better to meet the needs of customers. This is what Shuckin’ Shack does so well. We didn’t invent the concept of FUN- we just made it accessible to a shuck-load of people with our fun seafood restaurant concept.

Though you might think of Shuckin’ Shack as just a seafood restaurant, what sets it apart from others is the undying desire to be authentic. So, there are no hokey spiels, no canned responses or interactions, and no shuckin’ “pieces of flair!” We believe in a true authenticity that matches a familial vibe. It’s simple: when people are more authentic without feeling the need to pretend, they have more fun. And with Shuckin’ Shack, we emphasize the fun in dining.

We’ve taken care of the food and we’ve taken care of the authenticity. So, now we focus on the growth of the brand. In recent years, our Founder Matt focused his efforts on cultivating relationships with Shuckin’ Shack operators because franchising remains the primary growth vehicle for the brand. And it’s simple- if the brand grows and becomes more popular, Franchise Owners have more potential, and they’ll have bigger catches when it comes to their return on investment.

The key to successful franchising, according to CEO Jonathan is that, in the early stages, to require a hyper-focus on who you bring into the business. In other words, the people matter more than the finances. 

Keeping this in mind, the key steps that we’ve taken in business growth have all focused on relationships, both internal and external. The first hire you make internally is absolutely crucial for your success- as a business owner, you’re forced to impart not only knowledge but also a passion for something to someone coming from the outside. Externally, when we think about growing the business, the first Shuckin’ Shack Oyster Bar franchise partners must have the same conviction that we have, and sometimes even more. This means our Franchise Owners are just as important in building the brand as we are ourselves.

So, how do we impart knowledge and passion to our Franchise Owners to help them navigate the waters of our operations? Here’s what we offer Franchise Owners in terms of SHUCKIN’ AWESOME support:

      • Training. Our training classes cover everything from finances, inventory management, to front and back house operations, and much more. And we don’t kid around, we offer over 140 hours of comprehensive hands-on training with our exclusive “Shuck you” training program.
      • Ongoing support. We give our Franchise Owners ongoing personalized assistance to keep them up-to-date with the latest corporate directions, content, and more to help them set sail to bigger success.
      • Field support. We help Franchise Owners with site selection, store buildout, design, and even with their own soft and grand opening with support from our dedicated real estate support team.
      • Marketing support. We don’t leave our franchise owners high and dry when it comes to marketing. We give them marketing assistance, social media support, advertising support, and an annual promotional calendar with quarterly marketing directives and promotions. This all means they keep the ship sailing in the best possible conditions.
own a sustainably sourced seafood franchise

So, How Much Can You Make?

Wondering how many clams you can bring in as a Shuckin’ Shack Oyster Bar Franchise Owner? Nothing wrong with that- after all, There’s nothing “shellfish” about wanting to make money while having fun along the way! Our current oyster bar franchise locations net an  average of $1.37 million* a year! Yes, we said “net.” (And surprisingly didn’t make a fish pun out of it!)

Imagine earning an impressive net profit every year while doing what you love and, more importantly, having fun along the way- for our existing Franchise Owners, it’s just a day in the Shuckin’ life!

* Numbers obtained from our 2020 FDD

“Seas” the Day! Open a Shuckin’ Shack Oyster Bar Franchise

With only a few other casual dining restaurants focusing on fresh oysters and other shellfish, your Shuckin’ Shack Oyster Bar franchise probably won’t just be the best oyster bar in town- it may be the only one! Being the only one, your locals will flock to it and you’ll be able to treat them to a never-ending coastal vacation full of smiles, fun, and amazing food. 

Our simple, no-frills approach to operating a seafood restaurant means that you’ll treat your community to only the best seafood there is, and that you’ll also benefit from a franchise model that is as efficient to run as it is fun.

If you’d like to find out more about owning a Shuckin’ Shack Oyster Bar franchise, why not visit our franchise website?  Hope to “catch” you later!