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Shuckin’ Shack Sees Growth Potential in Cincinnati, Ohio

How the fresh seafood restaurant can translate from East Coast to Midwest as part of the brand's push to move inland.

By Nick Powills1851 Franchise Publisher
SPONSORED 10:10AM 08/27/19

Shuckin’ Shack Oyster Bar represents the fond memories that many have about heading to the coast—and has seen steady growth along the East Coast since entering the seafood scene back in 2007.

With 15 locations currently open and a 16th set to open in the coming days, Shuckin’ Shack is now looking to expand to the Midwest, specifically in Cincinnati, Ohio.

The push to expand the seafood brand inland is based around recent research conducted by the executive team, and after a recent visit to Cincinnati by Shuckin’ Shack CEO Jonathan Weathington on May 14, 2019, it became clear that the Buckeye State market was ripe for growth.

“One of the best ways to determine a market's most viable real estate sites is to use a ‘boots on the ground’ approach,” said Weathington. “There isn't really anything like us in the market. There are definitely folks serving seafood, but nothing like the product and experience we offer.”

Ohio’s Over-The-Rhine area is currently one of the brand’s top targets but sees opportunity in the entire greater Cincinnati region. They’re also looking at Florence, Covington and Newport on the Kentucky side and areas north of Cincinnati, such as Kenwood, on the Ohio side. With no direct competition in the market, Weathington feels Shuckin’ Shack provides a great opportunity to bring something new to residents in each new territory.

Shuckin’ Shack is looking to sign their first Cincinnati franchisee by the end of 2019, with plans to open two to three locations in the greater Cincinnati area in the coming years, but is approaching its growth strategically. “I view Cincinnati as a two to three store market, so I can’t imagine going beyond that right out of the gate,” said Weathington. “It really depends on strategic placement.”

On average, each new location can bring anywhere from 15 to 30 new jobs to a market like Cincinnati. As part of the Shuckin' Shack site selection process, the brand leverages real estate contacts heavily to closely examine data and traffic counts, household incomes, and other factors. The company also uses a third- party contractor to provide what the brand calls "treasure maps"— (their its version of heat maps—) which point out direct competitors, average household incomes, and other elements that are more germane to their success and helps the brand choose areas of growth.

Start-up 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