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Shuckin’ Shack Kicks Off Florida Expansion Plans—And Has a Head Start Thanks to a Franchise Signing in Ocala

The brand is looking to bring Shuckin’ Shack to the sunshine state with target markets that include Jacksonville, Pensacola and Tallahassee.

Florida rightfully evokes images of tropical beaches, long days in the water and plates of fresh-caught seafood. That said, fresh seafood is not as common in certain parts of Florida, such as the central portion of the state, as outsiders might think. 

For this reason, Shuckin’ Shack Oyster Bar has major plans to expand its footprint throughout the Sunshine State and to bring customers its signature menu of fresh seafood offerings. The North Carolina-based brand already has a head start thanks to an upcoming opening in the city of Ocala, located in central Florida about a one-hour drive north of Orlando. 

Shuckin’ Shack fits right in with the Florida lifestyle,” Shuckin’ Shack CEO Jonathan Weathington said. “There’s an authentic coastal atmosphere. When fresh seafood is done right, it’s the best food on earth, in my opinion. Florida is a natural fit for our brand. In many ways, it resembles North Carolina and South Carolina, where people know what good seafood is.”

Shuckin’ Shack was founded in 2007 in Carolina Beach, North Carolina around the idea of providing customers a casual environment in which to indulge in their favorite—and fresh—seafood meals. The brand started franchising in 2014 and has since expanded to over 15 locations in four states. Today, Shuckin’ Shack is primarily looking to expand throughout the southern United States—and Florida is a market that brims with possibilities. 

Shuckin’ Shack is specifically looking to expand in the northern and central parts of the state, as well as in the Panhandle. Jacksonville, Pensacola and Tallahassee, in particular, are competitive markets for the brand. 

“Jacksonville, as a whole, is growing tremendously, especially the western side of the city away from the coast,” Weathington said. “There are a lot of growing communities along Interstate 10.” 

The Florida cities of Gainesville, Orlando and Tampa have also been identified as prime markets for Shuckin’ Shack. A foothold in Orlando would be especially desirable for the brand, particularly through multi-unit developers, Weathington said.  

Fortunately, Ocala residents will have the chance to enjoy fresh seafood thanks to an upcoming opening. Brad Harper, a veteran franchisee who has owned and operated Zaxby’s franchises for years and recently signed on to franchise with breakfast, brunch and lunch brand Eggs Up Grill, signed on for three locations with Shuckin’ Shack earlier this year. Harper, a Georgia native, has lived in Ocala for almost 20 years and knows the area very well. His Shuckin’ Shack will be located right next door to his Eggs Up Grill franchise and is scheduled to open in early January. His next two Shuckin’ Shack locations will also be located in the region, including in the nearby city of Spring Hill. 

Weathington is confident Shuckin’ Shack will be well-received in the Florida market. Shuckin’ Shack is especially confident in Harper and his ability to successfully introduce the brand to Florida. 

“Brad Harper is the reason Shuckin’ Shack is going into Florida,” Weathington said. “He’s a multi-unit developer with other franchise brands. He has a foundation in place, and so we know we can do well with someone like him who is looking to diversify their franchise portfolio. This Ocala launch will be a telltale sign of how well we can do in Florida.”

With its focus on providing authentic, fresh seafood in a casual, family-friendly environment, Shuckin’ Shack is ready to bring the coast to any community. 

The startup costs for a Shuckin’ Shack franchise range from $234,200 to $541,350. The franchise fee is $37,500. To learn more about franchising with Shuckin’ Shack, visit