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After Experiencing Corporate Burnout, This Entrepreneur Invested in Shuckin’ Shack for Fresh Opportunities

This food-industry veteran didn’t want to abandon the industry entirely; Shuckin’ Shack provided an opportunity for him to own his own restaurant, staying involved in the industry in a more laid-back, enjoyable way.

By Morgan Wood1851 Franchise Contributor
SPONSOREDUpdated 8:08AM 04/25/22

Don Marcum has been in the food industry for the majority of his life. He has been involved with brands like Wendy’s, Pizza Hut and Dairy Queen and has led efforts such as the establishment of a brokerage company and a cheese-processing company. After a long and strenuous stretch on the corporate side of the industry, Marcum was feeling burnt out and began searching for a more relaxed pace.

“I got out of the corporate side, but I didn’t want to retire,” he said. “I had been involved in every other facet of the industry, but I had never opened a restaurant.” He explored his options for three to four years before discovering his perfect fit. 

Shuckin’ Shack, the casual, family-friendly oyster bar, had just started marketing its franchise, and Marcum and his wife, Margaret, went to check it out. “I had a bloody mary and a lobster roll and told my wife, ‘this is it.’ The atmosphere and the food hooked me.”

Not quite a sports bar but definitely not fine dining, Shuckin’ Shack stands out from other seafood restaurants, serving oysters and other fresh, high quality seafood in a more laid-back environment. The more he learned about the lifestyle of Hawaiian shirts and flip flops, Marcum said, the more interested he became.  Unlike most other seafood restaurants, Shuckin’ Shack bridges the gap between high-end establishments and fast-food chains, providing an oyster bar experience that is fit for the whole family.

“I didn’t want to buy just a job, I was looking to invest in new experiences,” Marcum explained, and Shuckin’ Shack provided just that.

Marcum took his first trip to visit Shuckin’ Shack corporate headquarters almost seven years ago. After meeting the team and experiencing the family dynamic, he was ready to sign. “It became apparent that the brand was like a big family, and we wanted to treat our employees the same way.” With the support of the corporate team, in 2015, his first location opened in Greenville, South Carolina.

Though the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted plans a bit, Marcum was able to open a second location in Easley, South Carolina in 2020 thanks to the incredible success of his first location. “We plan to grow more,” he says, “but we are waiting for the right location to appear. We’re not going to rush it.”

Now, Marcum has taken a step back from daily operations, describing himself as a passive owner. “Originally, I thought I would tend the bar and be the manager, but as we got into it, I could see it would be a lot of work, and I'm getting old,” he said. “I’ve been able to hire people to do these things and still be successful.” Marcum continues to be involved personally, visiting the restaurants, building relationships with customers and enjoying the environment he has built. “It's just a cool business,” he said. “It’s a fun place to be associated with and run.”

Don and Margaret epitomize what it means to be great owners - they love their employees and their employees love them. They're thoughtful, participative, and are a vital part of our entire system,” said Jonathan Weathington, Shuckin’ Shack CEO.

As the brand continues to expand, Weathington says South Carolina remains an area of interest. “The greater SC upstate is a market that has been great for us. We have a strong desire to expand into Columbia, Lexington, and Florence — all three being excellent remaining opportunities.”

The cost to open a Shuckin’ Shack franchise ranges from $352,700 to $1,128,252. For more information visit:

About Shuckin' Shack: 

Shuckin' Shack Oyster Bar grew out of a vision for a local establishment that would appeal to families of all ages. A place where friends and family can enjoy fresh, delicious meals and creative cocktails in an environment that exudes relaxation. Shuckin' Shack offers its guests a "lifestyle experience" in addition to exceptional seafood. The brand started as a 900-square-foot shack in Carolina Beach, North Carolina, in 2007 and began franchising in 2014. Today, Shuckin' Shack has grown to 16 locations across five states, and soon to be eight, with several more locations slated to open by the end of 2022. To learn more about Shuckin’ Shack, visit