Restaurant Development & Design

JAN-FEB 2018

restaurant development + design is a user-driven resource for restaurant professionals charged with building new locations and remodeling existing units.

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4 8 • r e s t a u r a n t d e v e l o p m e n t + d e s i g n • J A N U A R Y / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 8 4 RIVERS SMOKEHOUSE IS ON A MISSION This BBQ chain made its first move outside of Florida by turning an old firehouse in Atlanta into a restaurant. PROJECT PROFILE BY TOBY WEBER 4 Rivers Smokehouse was born out of a truly awful clerical error. That error occurred in 2004 when John Rivers got a tele- phone call telling him that his daughter had a brain tumor. A short time later, he got another call: There'd been a mistake. His daugh- ter was fine. The doctor's office had contacted the wrong family. John Rivers was relieved but deeply affected by what had happened. He reached out to the family of the sick girl and offered them financial support. Though the family declined, they did agree to let him put his smoker to work and host a barbecue fundraiser. "We contacted a church and got it all set up," says John Rivers' wife and 4 Rivers Visual Director, Monica Rivers. "Five hundred people RSVP'd. We had to figure out how to cook barbecue for 500, raised a lot of money for a little girl and my husband's passion was born." This passion for serving people, for making them happy with food and bring- ing the community together, led to the opening of the first 4 Rivers Smokehouse five years later in Winter Park, Fla. Today, the company has roughly 15 locations, including its newest store, which opened this summer in Atlanta. Mission Driven Given the chain's history, it's under- standable that 4 Rivers operates as a mission-driven business built around its "barbecue ministry." According to its website, the company seeks "to use our God-given gifts to support the 4 Rivers Smokehouse took over a 100-year-old firehouse building in Atlanta. Images courtesy of

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