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Charted Waters: How Unique Positioning and Bar Sales Make Shuckin' Shack a Recession Shark

Jonathan Weathington, CEO of Shuckin’ Shack Oyster Bar Franchise, explains that the friendly, casual atmosphere of their restaurants means they will always remain a prime choice for eating out.

By Katie Porter1851 Franchise Contributor
SPONSOREDUpdated 1:13PM 06/22/22

For weeks now, a looming recession has been a big talking point at Shuckin’ Shack meetings. The executives at the 17-unit oyster bar franchise, which started in North Carolina, have been discussing ways to stay on top of the economic issues on the horizon and maintain their current rate of growth each year. 

In fact, recessions have historically initiated scaling for emerging franchises. The unpredictability of the markets often leads to job loss, which has people looking for secure career options, explained Jonathan Weathington, CEO of Shuckin’ Shack.

“History tells us that franchise sales go up during the recession. It may seem counterintuitive to the average person looking from the outside in, but internally, it makes a lot of sense,” said Weathington. “Many six-figure salary and middle-management jobs are cut during a recession. It serves as a kick in the pants to make a change when your safety net disappears,” said Weathington.

The brand is prepared to show prospective Franchise Owners who may be worried about the outlook of the economy why Shuckin’ Shack will remain an oyster bar that people come to dine out. It comes down to their casual, welcoming environment where people know their money is going toward a great experience. At many locations, staff know patrons by name and know what they order by heart. 

“Since our founding in 2007, we know our customer base consistently returns during any and each economic downturn  because we create a familiar place where people feel comfortable, and the customer doesn't feel like it's a transactional relationship,” said Weathington. “When people are tightening down on budget and making decisions to cut back on eating out, we’re going to make that cut because they're going to go to a place where they feel welcomed. Plus, alcohol sales never really falter during a recession.”

Data from the National Bureau of Economic Research shows that in the recession of 2008, the sale of hard liquor increased drastically. Total alcohol sales grew 1% from 2003 to 2008, according to Brandy Rand, COO of the Americas at IWSR Drinks Market Analysis. Alcohol has always been a big revenue stream for Shuckin’ Shack, accounting for 30% of sales, and the company will continue to focus on its bar atmosphere during these times when liquor sales stay reliable. 

Weathington added that, because of COVID, the brand feels prepared for events that cause instability. The team learned during the pandemic to be agile, efficient and make the right decisions at the right times, and they can “flex those muscles again” during a recession.

“We survived the pandemic by the consumer making the right decision, and we will do the same again. We're hitting hard on the point of treating everybody right when they come in and capitalizing on every visit to ensure that we have a dedicated customer base,” said Weathington. “Staying true to your brand and being exactly who your customer needs is extremely important when your identity is at stake.”

The cost to open a Shuckin’ Shack franchise ranges from $453,000 to $1,128,252. Average NET Sales per location are $1,342,640. 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