Barbecue has always been about far more than just the food on your plate. This food group brings to mind family gatherings and community potlucks, often featuring recipes that have been passed down through generations. 4 Rivers Smokehouse is the most popular BBQ chain in Florida, and is a perfect example of BBQ being about so much more than just a meal.
The Story of 4 Rivers Smokehouse
John Rivers spent two decades working in healthcare before he became the brisket connoisseur he is today. After retiring, he traveled around the U.S., getting to know more of the country while experiencing the BBQ of different regions. As he continued to sample savory brisket and tangy sauces from the best BBQ joints around the country, he began to dream of one day de-regionalizing BBQ.
This dream became a reality with 4 Rivers Smokehouse, but in the beginning, Rivers had no idea what his BBQ would become. The Florida smokehouse didn't start out as a restaurant, it began as a way to support local organizations and families. John Rivers decided to launch the "Barbecue Ministry" back in 2004, a cookout fundraiser for a family whose daughter was fighting cancer.
He then began hosting cookout fundraisers for other causes, supporting local charities, churches and schools. Over the years, his delectable BBQ grew in fame and popularity, until it was no longer feasible to continue the operation from a garage.
By the fall of 2009, Rivers opened the first 4 Rivers Smokehouse location in Winter Park, Florida. The restaurant was an instant success, and there are now 13 locations across Florida, from Winter Garden to Kissimmee to East Orlando. However, no matter how big his business grows, Rivers' top priority will always be the Barbecue Ministry.
The name "4 rivers" represents John's family; John, his wife Monica, their son Jared, and their daughter Cameron. It also symbolizes the the four rivers that branch out from that which flows out of Eden in Genesis 2:10.
4 Rivers Smokehouse Menu
The 4 Rivers Smokehouse Menu, which you can find at www.4rsmokehouse.com, has all of the classic BBQ dishes your heart desires, from brisket to pulled pork to Texas sausage to smoked chicken. The Signature Angus Brisket is rubbed with Brisket Rub and smoked for 18 hours, and the Burnt Ends are smoked in the chain's delicious Signature Sauce.
There are St. Louis Style Ribs for those who who prefer this style, along with Vegan Burnt Ends double smoked with vegan BBQ sauce for any vegan BBQ lovers. To experience a sampler of different meats and sides, try the Smokehouse 2x2, Happy Herd, or 4R Party Package.
There are also the "John River Originals," which include unique mouthwatering recipes by Rivers himself. The Six Shooter features baked cheese grits and pulled pork, Southern Coleslaw, pickles, jalapeños and Signature Sauce. The 4 Rivers Smokehouse also has its own BBQ version of a grilled cheese with the Burnt Ends Melt. You also can't go wrong with the BBQ Street Tacos, BBQ Quesadilla or Smokehouse Sliders.
As for the homestyle sides, you can expect quintessential BBQ sides to go with your Burnt Ends and Smoked Chicken. The BBQ Baked Beans, Smoked Jalapeños, Sweet Potato Casserole, and Texas Cornbread are classic options. For some veggies, the Collard Greens, Fried Okra and Southern Green Beans are tasty as well.
Make sure to save room for dessert, since 4 Rivers Smokehouse has an extensive list of sweets to choose from, all made by the 4 Rivers Bakery. From the Crispy Cream Bread Pudding to the Hello Dolly Bar to the Quintessential Chocolate Cake, there's no better way to round out a meal of home-cooked barbecue.