Shuckin’ Shack Oyster Bar has come a long way from its roots as a 900-square-foot space in the oceanside town of Carolina Beach, North Carolina. The brand started off as a family-friendly establishment in 2007 in which seafood enthusiasts could enjoy their shrimp and oysters in a casual environment. This is still the case today, and Shuckin’ Shack has also grown into a dynamic brand and a unique franchise opportunity.
Today, Shuckin’ Shack has 16 restaurants across four states, with 14 of those locations being franchise-owned and -operated. The brand, which started franchising in 2014, has zero plans to slow its growth, as is evidenced by its expanding franchisee base and enthusiastic participation in industry events to recruit more franchisees. CEO Jonathan Weathington gave five reasons to invest in a Shuckin’ Shack franchise.
By creating a franchise system based on enjoying wild-caught seafood, Shuckin’ Shack has poised itself as a leader unlike any other in the full-service restaurant sector. The brand’s menu has a variety of delicious options for seafood lovers, from the signature Cold Crab Dip to the snow crab legs to the oyster sampler to family-style options and more. Such variety is typically only found in a coastal city’s hyperlocal establishments.
“There is nothing like us,” Weathington said. “Most of our competition comes from local mom-and-pop establishments. There are few people in the macro marketplace who are serving the quality of food that we are serving.”
Shuckin’ Shack is fairly obsessed with the success of its franchisees, so much that the brand is a bit different in how it structures royalty fees. The brand collects a 3% royalty fee the first year, a 4% royalty fee the second year and a 5% royalty fee the third year and every year beyond that. What’s more, the investment is about $540,000 while the average unit volume (AUV) is $1 million. The brand also has an average asset turnover ratio exceeding 2:1.
“The franchisor takes a significant cut on the front end to ensure the success of our franchisees,” Weathington said.
An efficient restaurant design
Shuckin’ Shack likes to think of itself as a full-service restaurant in a fast casual box, Weathington said. As such, the brand does not make its franchisees operate huge spaces. Instead, a typical Shuckin’ Shack restaurant is between 2,200 to 3,200 square feet, which keeps operations busy but not overwhelmingly so.
“We’re not in these cavernous, 5,000 to 6,000-square-foot spots, so we can be busy all the time,” Weathington said. “It just makes for a better, more agile design that gets us into markets where we want to be.”
Then there’s the matter of equipment and what franchisees are required to have on-hand to help run the restaurant and provide the full menu.
“We don’t bring in single pieces of equipment for single usage,” Weathington said. “We try to be very conscious of the things we are bringing in product-wise and how that flushes out from an operations standpoint. We are making sure we’re making the best use of the space.”
Authenticity and sustainability
Whether a Shuckin’ Shack restaurant is located directly on the beach or more inland, the brand prides itself on providing a laid-back, coastal feel, one that makes customers feel comfortable. The brand also works hard to be sustainable and environmentally-friendly. The brand is heavily involved in recycling and also joined the Skip the Straw movement. In 2015, Shuckin’ Shack became a certified Ocean Friendly Establishment thanks to partnerships with the Surfrider Foundation and the Plastic Ocean Project.
“We’ve been choosing sustainable products since before it became popular,” Weathington said. “We’ve been taking various sustainable measures for nearly 12 years and it’s at the forefront of who we are. It’s not something we’re doing for good public relations. It’s who we are and it matters when it comes to long-term viability.”
Shuckin’ Shack’s laid-back personality and coastal vibes are not limited to the brand’s customers. The brand prides itself on providing franchisees with a competitive franchise opportunity that won’t cause mountains of stress. Since Shuckin’ Shack is especially open to franchisees who have previous restaurant experience, the brand trusts that incoming franchisees will grasp the concept and execute it faithfully.
“We’re not necessarily hyper-focused on training people on how to do things, but rather why we do them The Shack way,” Weathington said. “Our individualism and the individualism of our employees and partners fleshes out naturally. We believe in just being yourself. This fits in with our full-blown, authentic coastal experience.”
By offering a unique concept, franchisee-friendly economics, efficient restaurant design and authentic and sustainable brand experience for everyone involved, Shuckin’ Shack is positioning itself as a desirable FSR franchise opportunity with major long-term potential.
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 https://www.shuckinshackfranchise.com/.