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Shuckin’ Shack Pinpoints Columbus, Ohio as Key Growth Market

After seeing a lot of success in inland markets, the fast-growing oyster bar franchise is looking to bring its incredible food and laid-back vibe to Ohio’s capital city.

By Madeline LenaStaff Writer
SPONSORED 10:10AM 08/27/19

What began as a low-key oyster bar nestled comfortably on the coast of Carolina Beach, North Carolina, Shuckin’ Shack Oyster Bar has quickly found its footing as the quintessential friendly neighborhood hangout where delicious food, cold drinks and top-tier service are always on the menu.

Growing to 16 total restaurants—14 of them franchised—since its humble beginnings in 2007, Shuckin’ Shack is gearing up for major growth, specifically in areas where you wouldn’t expect to find fresh, high-quality seafood year-round. As the brand prepares to enter a new phase of growth in 2019 and expand its presence beyond coastal markets across the United States, Shuckin’ Shack has identified Columbus as a key target market for development.

Beyond being home to The Ohio State University, the fast-growing population of Ohio’s capital city has captured the attention of many brands, and restaurant operators, in particular, looking to test their new products in what has been determined to be the ideal demographic sampling for the rest of America as a whole. The city has also been the recipient of several accolades, including an "A" rating as one of the top cities for business in the U.S. and a place among the top 50 cities in America. Accolades and market viability aside, though, Columbus has many of the elements that Shuckin’ Shack looks for in a market.

“Coastal markets are our bread and butter, but our top-performing stores are actually inland,” explained Shuckin’ Shack CEO Jonathan Weathington. “We have strategically targeted secondary inland markets where folks aren’t quite used to getting such high-quality seafood, and they’re coming out in droves to check out what Shuckin’ Shack offers.”

Shuckin’ Shack has identified three submarkets in the Columbus area that stand out as prime areas for development: Dublin, the New Albany neighborhood of Asbury Ridge; and the downtown Arena District. Weathington noted Dublin’s great school district, high median income and overall neighborhood feel as an ideal setting for the brand because it eliminates the need for customers to find parking. Plus, the prevalence of rooftops in the area falls right in line with the Shuckin’ Shack vibe.

Similarly, New Albany—and Asbury Ridge, in particular—is an attractive market for development because its also a family-oriented area with a high median income, a quality that has suited the brand well thus far, Weathington said. “We’re also interested in the Arena District and High Street downtown due to the area’s concentration of tourists, concert-goers and entertainment venues,” he continued.

As the brand prepares to enter the Columbus market, Weathington said the area’s rising population and overall growth could eventually lead Shuckin’ Shack to open up to five locations in Columbus and surrounding commuter areas. Noting that the brand has franchisees from different backgrounds thriving in its system, Weathington said Shuckin’ Shack is seeking engaged, growth-minded entrepreneurs who see the value in following a young but proven system to help the brand grow in Columbus.

While it’s helpful to have restaurant industry experience, Weathington remarked, the brand places more emphasis on franchise partners that understand the lifestyle of the industry and are fully committed to providing the ultimate guest experience.

“Our ideal franchisees are people who understand and buy into the Shuckin’ Shack brand,” Weathington said. “It’s about lifestyle, too; you don’t have to open seven units to make good money, but our concept isn’t a passive investment. We’re drawn to genuine, hard-working people who know how to have a good time—that’s who we want to surround ourselves with.”

The startup costs for a Shuckin’ Shack franchise range from $234,200 to $541,350 and include a $37,500 single-unit franchise fee. For more information on available franchise opportunities, visit