While creating a casual seafood joint was always one of the goals of Shuckin’ Shack’s business plan, so was having a major bar focus. The 16-unit franchise based out of North Carolina has always been a go-to spot in its communities for people to gather and enjoy a cold drink with friends and family. As the country enjoys business ramping back up after the pandemic, the brand wants to emphasize why its restaurants are a great place to get back out into the bar scene.
“Within the last six months, we are emphasizing bar sales more. I’ve always been an advocate that the bar drives the food business,” says Bill Bartlett, the company’s chief operating officer. “It’s the focal point of our restaurants. If we focus on elevating the bar experience, it will invigorate every part of a Shuckin’ Shack visit.”
“Creating a community through a bar atmosphere is really critical to what we’re doing,” adds Jonathan Weathington, Shuckin' Shack’s CEO. “There is a reason the bar is near the front door in almost every location. We do that intentionally because we want people to have that community feeling where you walk in, see people and sit down.”
With 2021 being the company’s most profitable year-to-date, and a restriction-free summer ahead, they are ramping up for some high-margin sales from both alcohol and the food menu. Bartlett pointed out that, historically, when alcohol profits increase, food sales also improve. “The atmosphere we have to offer is an impressive one,” Bartlett said. “We’ve created a strong menu, and we are consistent. When you serve this quality of signature food and drinks for a pretty low price compared to traditional bars, it drives more sales and more customers.”
“Current data shows that alcohol sales are 30% of Shuckin’ Shack’s revenues,” Weathington says. He mentioned that those percentages are among the highest in the industry. Outback Steakhouse, in comparison, makes 8% of its total revenues from alcohol sales.
One franchisee in particular who has seen how lucrative the bar at Shuckin’ Shack can be is Eric Weller, owner of the brand’s location in Frederick, Maryland. His location has the highest alcohol sales of the entire brand, and the sales have helped him expand to a location that is double the size, featuring two bars and an outdoor patio.
“I think the bar scene really helped us after COVID,” says Weller. “People missed bars. They spent two years without them. And post-COVID has helped us bring in new bar customers because people who had only been getting Shuckin’ Shack takeout are now able to come sit and have that experience here.”
Weathington anticipates that each location will see positive feedback with the late-night bar scene this summer. They stay open longer than typical restaurants, allowing people to continue ordering drinks and chatting with their friends and family.
“Most restaurants are dead by 8 or 9 p.m. if they don’t have a bar,” says Weathington. “But during peak season, our average store is going to stay open until 10 or 11 p.m., and some are open until 2 a.m. We can pull in revenue for a few more hours per night.”
The cost to open a Shuckin’ Shack franchise ranges from $352,700 to $1,128,252.
News and information presented in this release has not been corroborated by FSR, Food News Media, or Journalistic, Inc.