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The Winning Franchisee | After Climbing the Corporate Ladder for 20 Years, Geneva Resident Kyle Howard Quit His Job To Open an Oyster Bar Franchise

The Howards always had a goal to own their own business. After two decades in the corporate world, they are now pursuing that dream with seafood franchise Shuckin’ Shack.

By 1851 Staff1851 Staff Contributions
SPONSOREDUpdated 12:12PM 09/09/22

Kyle Howard always envisioned owning a restaurant one day, but he wanted to wait for the right time to leave his corporate job. Now, the 20-year corporate career veteran has opened a location with Shuckin’ Shack, a 16-unit oyster bar franchise that appeals to families of all ages. 

Howard is excited to bring Shuckin’ Shack to the Chicagoland area and looks forward to serving the locals quality seafood in a fun and welcoming environment. 

1851 Franchise: Tell me your story – what did you do before franchising?

Kyle Howard: I grew up in downstate Illinois and moved up to the Chicagoland area about 20 years ago. Shortly after, I started working at Navistar Inc., a company that operates as a manufacturer of International trucks, buses, and diesel engines. It was there where I met my wife, Angie. Although we both found success at Navistar, it was always a goal of ours to own our own business one day. I left Navistar approximately three years ago to start the process.

1851: How did you initially find out about franchising, and what was your perception of franchising before becoming a franchise owner?

Howard: Owning our own franchise was always the end goal, but it never seemed like the correct time to up and leave our jobs.

1851: How did you decide you wanted to be a franchisee?

Howard: Angie and I had talked about owning our own business ever since we met, and after spending nearly two decades working in the demanding corporate environment, it felt like the right time to leave Navistar. Angie is still working there, but I had the opportunity to start consulting, and that allowed me the flexibility to start the process of researching and purchasing a franchise. We both have always loved seafood and thought Shuckin’ Shack was a unique concept that could attract a lot of Chicagoans. 

1851: How did you perform your research?

Howard: Originally, we entertained the idea of starting a business from scratch but quickly realized we wanted to join an established business rather than reinvent the wheel. We started researching franchise opportunities online and found a few different websites that provided details and reviews for different franchises. We were searching online when we came across an opportunity for Shuckin’ Shack; right off the bat it seemed like a perfect fit. We had been leaning towards entering the food business and loved the idea of bringing a quality seafood restaurant to Chicagoland.

1851: Why did you pick Shuckin’ Shack? What excited you most about the potential?

Howard: The most exciting part about purchasing a Shuckin’ Shack location is being a part of something that brings people together. We are so excited to work with people who are passionate about food. An oyster bar in the Chicago suburbs is not very common, and we are thrilled to be able to bring something different to the area. 

1851: What are your dreams with the business? What does the future look like?

Howard: Right now, we are focused on our first location, but eventually we hope to expand. Ideally, we would head into other Chicago suburbs. 

1851: What advice would you have for others looking at buying a franchise?

Howard: It is so important to be able to trust the people you are going into business with and trust the franchising process. Good processes and good people make a business successful. 

1851: What do you do in your personal time (hobbies, family, sports, etc.)?

Howard: We consider ourselves big foodies who love to travel and experience new cultures. Prior to the pandemic, we loved to travel. Angie and I both worked in sales and business development, so we often had the opportunity to travel internationally. Traveling increased our passion for great food and culture.