Restaurant Investors Hunter and Shannon Yung Bring Shuckin’ Shack to St. Louis
Shuckin’ Shack, the casual, family-friendly oyster bar franchise, is expanding its footprint and setting up three new locations in the greater St. Louis area. A multi-unit deal led by franchisees Hunter and Shannon Yung, two investors with extensive backgrounds in the restaurant industry, will usher the brand’s entrance into Missouri.
The Yungs have signed on as new franchisees with years of restaurant development experience, including with the Olive Garden and Buffalo Wild Wings, and are excited to bring the fast-growing oyster bar franchise to St. Louis.
“You gather all sorts of insights from working with different franchises over the years, and it became clear to us early on that Shuckin’ Shack would be a lucrative business opportunity,” said Hunter. “It’s a proven-successful model backed by an all-star corporate team, and we know that it will resonate with the residents of St. Louis. A casual oyster bar has a little mystique to it, and it’s going to add a new, fun atmosphere to the St. Louis restaurant scene when we open.”
Jonathan Weathington, CEO of Shuckin’ Shack, said the insights of both Hunter and Shannon will help the brand develop in new ways. “It’s important to have franchisees on board that are excited to take on new challenges. Hunter and Shannon have already proven their success through previous restaurant experience and we’re in a great position as a brand to continue to evolve and take on new solutions as we scale. Shuckin’ Shack has had its strongest year to date in 2021 and we are confident that 2022 will be even better thanks to dedicated franchise owners like Hunter and Shannon.”
The couple was first led to the Shuckin’ Shack brand because of its full-service model and hometown feel. “We had previously looked at bar or restaurant concepts that really lean into the bar or grill-type feel, and we quickly determined that wasn’t the route that we were interested in following,” said Hunter.
Instead, they thought that St. Louis would benefit from something new as the area is largely lacking in quality oyster bars. “It’s really hard to find food like oysters without going to a white-tablecloth restaurant and we haven’t seen that as an environment for people to truly enjoy themselves,” said Shannon. “People are a lot more hesitant to cook seafood at home than they are chicken or pasta. People view seafood as a treat or an experience and they want to dine out when they are craving seafood, especially for something like fresh oysters.”
Both Shannon and Hunter have been able to work in close coordination with the Shuckin’ Shack corporate team — which, paired with their past insights in the restaurant industry, has allowed the brand to progress in new ways. “The Shuckin’ Shack corporate team is like us,” Hunter said. “Their team has run businesses before, the founder is a down-to-earth person, and we have ownership over our store to find our own success.”
Hunter added that the brand’s corporate culture is inclusive, and that every executive has displayed a willingness to help. “If we needed to fly somebody out to help us, they would probably get on a plane without hesitation and be here to lend a hand,” Hunter added.
Quality, casual oyster service is what has set Shuckin’ Shack apart since the brand’s inception and has allowed it to scale at such an impressive rate. Next year, more customers will be able to pay a visit to a Shuckin’ Shack location throughout the Midwest and the brand is eager to capitalize on sustained brand expansion. As Hunter and Shannon establish their three-unit agreement throughout the St. Louis metro area, they are open to continued expansion into St. Charles or Columbia, Missouri.
“We’ve got some great insights from other restaurant investors in the area about where their hot spots are,” Hunter said. Those insights are a primary reason for why St. Louis was targeted in the first place, and a key motivator for ambitious projections for years to come as the brand, and the Yungs, continue to scale.