Business Bites: 4 Rivers Smokehouse

The Art of Smoking

by Dave Nevill Jr. of OrlandoFoodScene.com

Since October of 2009, John Rivers and his team have been serving their guests some of the best barbecue around, while also charitably serving their community. Their first location was a small 1,400-square-foot space on Fairbanks Avenue, previously home to an auto mechanics shop. This location was originally designed to be “Barbecue Ministry,” where Rivers and his small crew would prepare food for church events, schools, and other local charities. When they flipped the switch on the open sign, and prepared to start selling to the public, a line quickly formed out the door. Fast forward just six years later, and 4 Rivers is now 11 locations strong with one of the newest preparing to open in Orlando’s City Hall this fall/winter.

On several of the trips I’ve made to their various locations, my first impression is always that this is the cleanest barbecue place I’ve ever been to. Attention to detail on everything from the menu display to the dining area really set 4 Rivers apart from the vast majority of other local barbecue joints. Everything is well-organized, the staff is courteous and friendly, and the whole operation runs like a well-oiled machine. It’s a good thing too, because the waiting line can be intimidating for first timers. Rest assured though, you’ll be eating that award winning barbecue in no time.

As you arrive at the cafeteria-style assembly line to place your order, you’re presented with meats and sides. The signature protein and the king of the menu is the Angus beef brisket, which is available in two styles depending on your preference (lean or juicy). This is a must-try item, and is served up as a sandwich, a dinner plate, or in some of their signature stackers. Of the 16 sides that are available, I always recommend trying the baked beans (best I’ve ever had,) smoked jalapenos (spicy and bacon wrapped,) and bread pudding (warm and sweet,) for first timers.

The Sweet Shop, a newer addition to the 4 Rivers family, is located at a handful of their locations. The selection of desserts and milk shakes are made fresh in house and are a sight to behold. Carrot Cake cupcakes and drop-in milk shakes are a perfect way to cap off your visit.

With several locations around the I-4 corridor and beyond, 4 Rivers Smokehouse is a success story that started with a little faith and blossomed into a truly divine barbecue experience. 

4 Rivers Smokehouse

East Orlando | Winter Park  Downtown Orlando
South Tampa – coming soon


This article appears in the December 2015 issue of i4 Business.
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i4 Business

i4 Business magazine has become one of the most trusted voices for and about the Central Florida business community. Each month through our print and digital platforms, we provide access to meet, to learn from and to learn about some of the incredible entrepreneurs and business leaders who are shaping our region.

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