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Have you heard our CEO’s latest podcast appearance? Here’s a recap of what you missed!

Seafood franchise CEO Jonathan Weathington

CEO, businessman, and restaurant industry thought leader are three qualities that come to mind whenever Shuckin’ Shack’s Jonathan Weathington wraps up an interview. Certainly, his latest appearance on the Business RadioX podcast, hosted by Lee Kantor, was no exception.

Whenever someone with a deep knowledge of the restaurant business speaks out, it seems like the whole industry perks up their ears and takes notice because no one really knows where we’re headed as 2022 quickly approaches.

To learn more about the current business landscape, check out this recent Wall Street Journal article about leisure and hospitality job openings after the pandemic and the struggles franchise owners will have to overcome to thrive in this new economic landscape. Indeed, Jonathan’s input in the article is a sneak peek into how Shuckin’ Shack plans to move forward and keep the positive momentum moving forward!

However, during the Business RadioX podcast, Jonathan told the story of where Shuckin’ Shack started and where they plan to go in the near future.

“We started in 2007 with a single unit and grew to a second unit in 2012 and then started franchising in 2014,” Jonathan explained, “and really, it’s our goal to just treat people well by serving them the best seafood and coldest drinks possible.”

Down-to-earth, simple, and cozy – what’s not to like about that kind of restaurant franchise?

So, how did Shuckin’ Shack achieve success when restaurants across the nation are grappling with how to entice customers to come back?

Humble origins lead to tremendous opportunities

The long story short about Shuckin’ Shack’s humble origins is that the business has raised the sails, weathered the storm, and expanded locations when so many other new restaurants have faltered in the last few years.

“We were kind of headed into not a great place as far as macroeconomics is concerned across the nation,” Jonathan said, “but just kind of started kicking butt and taking off and grew from there.”

“It did not set out to be a franchise from the beginning. I think like most other restaurants, it really just set out to survive the first year from the beginning,” Jonathan added.

What started as two business partners with an idea and a 960 square-foot “shack” eventually grew into the Shuckin’ Shack brand.

Even to this day, there remains a tremendous business opportunity to offer seafood lovers a different kind of dining experience than the typical overly formal atmosphere; suits, ties, and evening gowns are a sort of uniform people assume they have to wear to eat top-end seafood.

But not at Shuckin’ Shack! In fact, that’s the whole concept. Leave the formality at home and come in to eat sustainably sourced seafood at a way better price point.

Still, the key to their recent success was how they pivoted the restaurant to a franchise model, Jonathan summarized. “It’s an extremely different business. You’re no longer just an operator.”

He went on by saying, “I was working for a couple of other companies at the time that they started franchising, and so I came in completely from the outside to help them specifically grow the franchising side.”


Setting sail with a clear course – the Shuckin’ Shack way

In no time, Shuckin’ Shack had refined their franchise model and opened several different locations with many more to come next year.

“We have single-unit Franchise Owners who are also owner-operators, and right now, in our system, that’s our bread and butter,” Jonathan went on to say. “We love single-unit owner-operators. They tend to care about the business extremely well.”

That’s already a behind-the-scenes look at how Shuckin’ Shack keeps shuckin’ up the competition, yet Jonathan added another insight.

When it comes to franchise owner-operators, “there’s more of an incentive for them to run a little bit tighter ship, and you know that they’re really invested within the community,” he revealed.

Is that all it takes to launch a successful restaurant? That’s the question, yet according to Jonathan, the secret to Shuckin’ Shack’s expansive growth is how their Franchise Owners treat guests, not necessarily their model.

“We give people a great system. We give them great products, and we give them great marketing materials to reach their customers,” Jonathan explained. “We can drive customers in the door. That’s not an issue. It’s how they treat people. That’s what separates the rock stars from the average folks.”

Interestingly, the main concern for the restaurant business these days is hiring the best staff, as Jonathan mentioned in a recent segment on Good Morning America.

“We encourage folks to hire for personality as opposed to talent or skill. We want people within our four walls who can speak to others just like you’re in someone’s living room,” Jonathan wrapped up.

“We desire folks who work for us to have a genuine sense of connection with other human beings. And quite frankly, the product doesn’t matter. We just happen to serve an exceptional product.”

Moving forward, the restaurant industry will still have to overcome operational challenges triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic. No matter what happens in the next few years, you can go all-in and bet the farm that Shuckin’ Shack will sail along smoothly.

Visit our website for more info on becoming a Franchise Owner and joining the Shuckin’ Shack family.