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Shuckin’ Shack Refines Its Brand Messaging

The team at the oyster bar franchise talks about why the company wants the bar atmosphere to be a major part of its image.

By Katie Porter1851 Franchise Contributor
SPONSOREDUpdated 8:08AM 06/03/22

Walk into any Shuckin’ Shack location and one of the first things you see is the bar. The staff will cheerfully greet you, and if you’re a regular, they may make your drink before you make it to the counter to order. This casual atmosphere that encourages ordering drinks with your food is part of a deliberate refresh of the 16-unit oyster bar franchise. 

“We are emphasizing bar sales more, starting about six months ago,” said Bill Bartlett, COO of the brand. “I’ve always been an advocate that the bar business drives the food business. We are now really making a big push. It’s the center of our restaurants. Bartenders say ‘hi’ to every guest coming in.”

Jonathan Weathington, CEO of Shuckin’ Shack, says he has seen firsthand how the initiative is succeeding. He was just in one of the restaurants the other day and witnessed a recurring patron come through the doors. 

“By the time he sat down at the bar seat, the bartender had already made him a vodka cranberry, which is his favorite drink,” said Weathington. “It's pretty neat that we physically position our restaurants so that our bartenders can see who walks in the front door and can recognize them.”

The restaurants are able to offer that level of service because of how they are constructed, with the bars right in the front, where possible. While other restaurants tend to sequester the bar away from main traffic, in the back or along a side wall, Shuckin’ Shack has made it one of the concept’s focal points. 

“When you walk into the front door, we are physically telling you exactly what we are — an oyster bar. It's in our name,” said Weathington. “The message that is delivered to customers is that we are a community-driven atmosphere.”

Eric Weller, co-owner of the Shuckin’ Shack Frederick, MD location (which has the highest volume bar program in the chain), said that the franchise has done a good job of marketing itself as a place where people can come and gather while getting great drinks and delicious seafood.

“We are a relaxed environment. It’s not white-table-cloth fine dining. People come in with sandals or backward hats and they feel comfortable,” Weller said. “And we have a big bar scene with great sales now. We added a DJ on Fridays and Saturdays and live music on Thursdays — now we’re open until 2 A.M. on the weekends.”

The brand is focused on promoting its bar all summer long and being a favorite destination for patrons. Weathington said Shuckin’ Shack wants to make sure its messaging reflects that alcohol sales are 30% of their revenue. 

“We want to make sure that our brand messaging is accurate when potential franchise owners are coming into our system,” said Weathington. “The bar is a significant part of your business, and in order to build that bar atmosphere, you have to hire bartenders and management staff and a front of the house that is personable, kind, and knows how to speak to people. That's gonna be your bread and butter.”

The cost to open a Shuckin’ Shack franchise ranges from $453,000 to $1,128,252. For more information visit: www.theshuckinshack.com.

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 http://www.theshuckinshack.com.

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