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Shuckin’ Shack Oyster Bar: Your Answers To Everything About Franchise Ownership

Ever wondered what it takes to open and run a successful seafood restaurant franchise? For this week’s blog takeover, we sat down with Shuckin’ Shack’s Franchise Development Director, Mike Edwards, and Development Manager, Tyler Woodward, for a fun and informal Q&A about Shuckin’ Shack Oyster Bar.

Going into the business of working for yourself can be a scary proposition. The act of leaving a secure position for the unknown comes with a variety of risks, factors, and questions. Things like how well you can navigate the rough waters of an unreliable economy, what your business overhead expenses will be, and do you even have enough in the bank to open, to begin with, among many others.

Luckily, we’re here to answer any and all questions you might have about opening and operating your own business—mainly the franchise of a sustainably sourced seafood restaurant. Franchising allows businesses to expand while also giving aspiring entrepreneurs like yourself the ability to run their own business operations while still receiving the full support of the parent company.

Many people have aspirations of opening a bar or restaurant but have yet to decide to go for it. As discussed earlier, there are so many factors to consider. However, if you’ve got the money and the willingness to commit to being a self-made business owner in the restaurant world, Shuckin’ Shack Oyster Bar is an excellent place to start.

When prospective customers come to us about getting involved with a Shuckin’ Shack Oyster Bar franchise, we field a variety of questions from them. Yet, understandably, some still have concerns after the initial meeting. Below you’ll find some of the questions we get asked the most when opening and operating one of the fastest-growing restaurant franchise businesses in the country. Welcome to the Franchise Discovery Process!

How do you keep your supply chain strong?

Tyler: We have a strong relationship with sustainable seafood farmers and haven’t had any issues with the supply chain. Because of our success, we’ve even been featured on national news reporting groups this past year about our ability to keep the supply chain strong.


How are you able to keep costs low for your customers?

Mike: We use American seafood farmers and distributions, whereas many seafood restaurant chains will outsource to non-American companies that offer a sub-par product, creating higher overhead expenses for them. 


How are you able to consistently source fresh seafood?

Mike: We have reliable distribution in every market with a Shuckin’ Shack Franchise location. Our Corporate Franchise Support team has a lot of established relationships with seafood distribution companies across the country, and they are tapping into those to get the freshest seafood delivered as quickly to Shuckin’ Shack locations across the country.


Do I need restaurant experience to become an oyster bar franchise owner?

Mike: So no, you do not need previous restaurant experience. We do a fantastic job at training the right people. We have Shuckin’ U (Shuckin’ Shack University), which is in-person training. That is 40 hours of training across one week in Wilmington, North Carolina. Plus, we visit your franchise location and train you and your staff upon the restaurant’s opening. There are specific people skills that you must have. You must be comfortable working with and managing people, but working in a restaurant is not a skill set required to succeed at Shuckin’ Shack.


During the past few years, it seems restaurants have had a difficult time retaining staff. How is Shuckin’ Shack fairing?

Mike: It doesn’t matter what is going on in the economy because people always need to work. If you’re a fantastic employer, you take care of your employees. If you recognize your valuable employees and lead your employees, you’re always going to have employees, and you’re always going to have a pipeline leading to good employees. If you’re not good with people, have high turnover, don’t recognize your employees, don’t hire well, and don’t manage well, then it’s the opposite. It doesn’t matter what’s going on with the economy; you’ll still have employee retention problems.


How big does the city need to be to open a Shuckin’ Shack seafood franchise?

Mike: It doesn’t have to be a big city; it just depends on if it’s a market with a reasonable population of, let’s say, at least 50,000 people. And many times, it makes sense to be a bigger fish in a smaller pond. So, it doesn’t have to be a big city, but we still have to understand that city to a certain degree and what’s there, what the competitive restaurant business landscape looks like, etcetera.


What do you get from the franchise fee?

Mike: It’s the fee to join a club. The fee gives you access to all the great people who have built your franchise. You’ll have access to the business model. And then access to distribution, access to the setup, to the people that have done it for a couple of decades and to work closely with them, have them train you, and show you how to do it successfully.

What does your franchise owner support look like?

Mike: You get all of the on-site training you need from the support staff and can call them whenever you need help. This is a team that is really engaged. The franchise owners will talk about how the team is always just a phone call away, and they will call back regardless of the time, even if it’s a weekend. So, they’re very personal, and they’re very hands-on. They really care about the success of each franchise owner, working closely with each of them individually. And they’re always there, and you’ll hear that from everyone in the system.


With the potential recession coming or possibly already here, why is now a good time to invest financially in a Shuckin’ Shack?

Mike: During these downturns, small mom-and-pop operations tend not to make it, while franchises still grow their businesses and succeed more times than not. So this is an excellent long-term business opportunity for you to capitalize on during what could be a downtime for the economy.

Another reason is commercial real estate. Real estate was extremely expensive, and getting sites was challenging when things were booming. In a downturn economy, more locations are accessible. Unfortunately, some businesses are on the way out. But that makes room for new businesses that are taking a risk to build during a recession. It’s a good time to succeed because there are a lot of opportunities now in commercial real estate and potentially with financing. Typically, a bank won’t lend to a mom-and-pop, but if you’re a part of a franchise system, they are much more comfortable loaning you the money.

There’s also the employee question. People are getting laid off in a downturn, so there is a more extensive base of people looking for work to choose from.


Should I take a gamble on myself and the market while things are uncertain and unstable and capitalize on these business opportunities more so than in an upmarket?

Mike: An upmarket means money is more readily available, and there’s more competition because everyone feels in a position to try and get some. When we had the biggest boom in the last decade, you had many more mom-and-pop shops to compete against. You have a ton of people with access to capital to compete against. You have a ton of people that didn’t have to run the best ship possible because their other financial investments were going up, so it kept them afloat. It kept too much competition in the space.

The franchise is the most sustainable business model because it’s been around since 1888, it’s been through a recessionary period before, and they teach you how to be the best and to beat the competition. That’s why this is the time to go with a franchise rather than to go at it alone. If you believe in yourself when everyone else is leaving, this is the best opportunity for you. But above all else, when you find the right partner and franchise, you’ll enter a climate and an environment with less competition than before.


How long will it take to open my first bar and grill franchise location?

Mike: It will take 9 to 11 months from the first time you sign the Franchise Agreement.


Given all the economic uncertainties, is that a substantial amount of time to go through?

Mike: Again, you’ve got to bet on yourself and not try to time the market. But there truly is no perfect time to open a sports bar or seafood restaurant. A lot of people want to open in the springtime when it’s booming, but they don’t have a staff fully in place, the owners aren’t trained, and they can turn away customers quickly, which will make it that much harder to get those customers back. So there are a lot of advantages to opening when it’s slower.


Why is Shuckin’ Shack considered recession-resistant?

Mike: People have to eat, and they eat regardless if there’s a recession. The first thing people tend to cut back on in a serious market downturn is luxury travel. That means more staycations. They do more around their hometown, so they may have more budget to go out and eat because they are cutting back on big purchases: extensive travel, cars, sporting events, concerts, etc.

Shuckin’ Shack has been around since 2007. They opened right before the most significant financial crisis anyone has ever experienced in 2008 and 2009, and that’s right when business  took off. So, again, you go back to the key point that people eat regardless of a recession. We don’t feel a recession actually hurts good seafood restaurants.

What does Shuckin’ Shack have other than great food? It has a fun environment. It’s the type of place people look to go when things aren’t great because when things aren’t, we all want to go somewhere to have fun and be carefree. Shuckin’ Shack Oyster Bar and Grill is the perfect kind of environment for any sort of downturn.


Thank you for taking the time to submit all these wonderful questions! We hope this information helps you take the next step toward becoming a Shuckin’ Shack Oyster Bar franchise owner!

Discovery Process. Anything we didn’t address here? Visit our bar and grill franchise website to schedule a call so we can speak with you one-on-one.

We are looking forward to hearing from you!