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The Windy City is About to Get a Good SHUCKIN’! Meet Franchise Owners Kyle and Angie Howard

seafood franchise owners Kyle and Angie Howard

Shuckin’ Shack is finally coming to the Windy City, and we’re super excited about it. It’s such a great place, and we can’t imagine a better location for a cool place with such a great vibe like Shuckin’ Shack.

And you can say that again! Everyone knows Shuckin’ Shack is all about fun. In fact, we’re a family vacation rolled into a restaurant and a gathering place for all types of people who just want to have fun, where they can spend quality time with the folks they love, and where strangers are just friends they haven’t met yet.

We’re proud to introduce our brand new Franchise Owners in Chicago, Kyle and Angie Howard. Coming from a corporate background, they’ve taken the leap to open their own business and do something that reflects their shared passions for food, friends, and fun!

But what made Kyle and Angie decide to invest in a seafood franchise like Shuckin’ Shack? What are some of the things that made them feel like they wanted to be part of our team? Let’s take a look.

The Making of Shuckin’ Superstars- About the Howards

Kyle Howard started working for a Chicago-based business specializing in commercial trucks and diesel engines, in 2001. In addition to meeting his wife Angie on the job, he was able to work his way up through the ranks to Vice President of Sales, Domestic and Export, which was his role up to his 2018 departure. After leaving the company, Kyle started working for himself and found that he had the makings of a successful entrepreneur- and also that he liked being his own boss!

Angie is still employed at her current company and plans to continue working there until, as she says, “Kyle makes this a $1,000,000 business.” Seeing as how our Franchise Owners averaged gross sales of close to a million dollars* last year despite a restaurant-devastating pandemic, that million-dollar dream just might happen sooner rather than later! 

Kyle and Angie always talked about having their own business, and a couple of years ago, after Kyle left his last position, they seriously started looking for something that would suit them. That’s when they came across the Shuckin’ Shack opportunity on the online business marketplace BizBuySell.

So, what drew them to the opportunity initially? As Kyle says, “We both love seafood. We both love oysters and seek out oyster bars wherever we go. So, we started to look at it and thought this really kind of feels like something that we would enjoy.”

*Refer to 2021 Franchise Disclosure Document Item 19 – Table 23

Why Entrepreneurship?

One of the main reasons Kyle and Angie wanted to own their own business is to get away from the corporate environment. Kyle says that the corporate world has its own challenges. It’s sometimes hard to get things done, and when you’ve got an idea, it’s challenging and time-consuming to get those things implemented.

As a result, opportunities to do new things within the business are limited. Now, compare that to being your own boss and having something to wake up to every day. Owning your own business gives you the ability to work for yourself, and you have the power to work for other people as you choose. So, as Kyle says, there’s a real intimate involvement in what you’re doing, not only for yourself but for other people too.

Angie adds, “[In the corporate world] you are really one piece of a big machine versus [owning your own business] you get to see the entire machine, and we get to contribute to every part of that machine, which is very attractive to me.”  

seafood franchise owners Kyle and Angie Howard

Why a Shuckin’ Shack Franchise?

So, after they were initially drawn to our seafood franchise opportunity, what made the Howards decide to seize it? 

As Kyle explains:

“We’ve always had an interest in food, how food gets from where it’s grown or raised to the table. So, we always kind of wanted to be somewhere in the food industry, and we looked at their story. We looked at their sustainability message. Obviously, the food we loved. The atmosphere looked like something that you know was right up our alley. So, we just started to check into it. And the more we found out, the more we liked. So, that’s kind of what brought us here.”

An added bonus is that Angie grew up in Korea, a country surrounded by the ocean on three sides. So, seafood was in all of their cuisines, and she was no stranger to it. So, with their combined love of seafood and their desire to run their own business, they just decided to do it.  

Considering this, there are basically a few factors that made them decide on owning a Shuckin’ Shack seafood franchise.

Our delicious food and great, fun-filled atmosphere are probably the first things that set us apart from a lot of other seafood joints out there. You know, when people think about seafood franchise restaurants, they often think of only two types. The one is the white-tablecloth, jacket-and-tie type of establishments that cost an entire paycheck for a meal. The other is the greasy fast-food joints that serve deep-fried mystery fish. 

That’s where Shuckin’ Shack comes in. We offer fine dining-quality food in a fun, laid-back casual dining atmosphere. You can bet that the quality of our seafood will beat even the fanciest places in town, and we have a lot more fun as well! So, we honestly aren’t too surprised that Kyle and Angie were initially attracted by our high-quality, sustainably sourced seafood served in a one-of-a-kind environment.

As Kyle says, we’re not a cookie-cutter franchise where every location looks the same. We allow for differences in setup to accommodate the area where the restaurant is located.              

Kyle also mentioned the significance and importance of our commitment to sustainability and how it helped influence their decision to invest in a seafood franchise with us. At Shuckin’ Shack, we know that oysters and other sea life need our help to stay well-stocked and plentiful for future generations of seafood lovers. That’s why we are committed to serving only sustainably sourced, domestic seafood that has been caught responsibly. 

Through our partnership with the James Beard Foundation’s Smart Catch program, our work with the Oyster Shell Recycling Program, and our ocean-friendly Establishments Certification, we’re dedicated to upholding the quality and sustainability of the seafood we serve.

Shuckin' Shack Oyster Bar Franchise

Another thing that was important to the Howards is the genuine interest that Shuckin’ Shack has in its customers. As natural “people” people who love hearing the stories and experiences of new folks they meet, Kyle and Angie are excited to own a business tht brings in a whole sea of interesting and diverse people to meet. We’re committed to helping our Franchise Owners give their customers an exceptional experience, and love it when amazing people like the Howards, who truly love meeting new people, want to join our seafood franchise since we know that means our customers will keep coming back for another out-of-this-world Shuckin’ Shack experience!  

Angie also mentioned that the amount of support our Franchise Owners get was a huge draw for the Howards when researching our seafood franchise. Although they debated it at length and thought about opening an independently-owned local restaurant, one of the reasons Kyle and Angie ultimately chose to go the franchise route was the support. 

She says, “There’s a really good support structure so you can do your job right and get the support you need and know that you’re not alone, and you’re part of that community of restaurants.”

Discovery Day Seals the Deal!

When asked if there was anything in particular that stood out at Discovery Day that made them really want to join the team, both Angie and Kyle agreed that the leadership team is something special.

“One word I could think of is energy. I love the energy from Jonathan. From Matt,” Angie says, referring to our Founder Matt Piccinin and our CEO Jonathan Weathington.

Despite Matt’s recognition as Entrepreneur of the Year and Jonathan’s recent features on the cover of FSR Magazine and in Business North Carolina, Nation’s Restaurant News, and Franchise Times, they don’t take themselves too seriously. Jonathan will even make you take your tie off when you go for an interview with him, as Kyle can attest.

Matt and Jonathan’s energy and passion for what they do has resulted in a  well-thought-out operational and support structure that has been implemented with a lot of flexibility. So, you can almost think about it as having fun and a passion for something, but with that little bit of seriousness thrown in the mix.

As Kyle says, “It was impressive to see.”

The Grand Opening

Although it’s still a few months off, what is the thing that Kyle and Angie are most excited about during their grand opening?

The Howards agree they’re excited about sharing the caring experience with the people. They’re excited about the fact that they found this opportunity and that they can share it with the community. In the process, they’ll meet different people from all walks of life, enjoy the food with them, and hear the story of why they’re visiting the Shuckin ’Shack seafood franchise.

Angie says, “People who like to go to oyster bars go there for a reason, and they have a story of why they love oysters and seafood so much.” Hearing those stories and meeting her fellow oyster and seafood enthusiasts are some of the things she’s most excited about as a Franchise Owner.

As Kyle points out, everything in life centered around a meal. For instance, most special occasions are centered around a meal. Because of this, he’s excited that people will be at Shuckin’ Shack to celebrate their wins both big and small and have a GOOD SHUCKIN’ TIME!

shuckin' shack ceo with some words of franchise wisdom

The Future of Seafood Franchise Ownership

When asked about the future and the great uncertainty resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, Kyle says they live in an area that’s very much an eat-out culture. In Chicago, he says, when new restaurants open, there usually are lines out the door for people waiting for a seat.

Kyle thinks that this will be the case for their Shuckin’ Shack seafood franchise as well because it’s a new restaurant, but also because of people’s newfound freedom as the pandemic wanes. He predicts that as people are more able to get together over delicious seafood and ice-cold beers, that’s just what they’ll do!

Wishing Our Chicago Seafood Franchise Owners Success!

Driven by a love for seafood and a desire to have their own business, Kyle and Angie Howard have taken the leap and will open their own Chicago-area Shuckin’ Shack seafood franchise soon. We wish them all the luck in the world, and they can be sure that we will be with them every step of the way.

If you want to find out more about Shuckin’ Shack and how you could own a seafood franchise in your hometown, visit our franchise website for more details.

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