John Rivers

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John Rivers’ diverse career experience spans two decades and ranges from managing a billion-dollar pharmaceutical distribution operation to creating one of the fastest-growing restaurant concepts in the Southeast. Rivers’ Texas-inspired brand, 4 Rivers Smokehouse, is located throughout Florida in Winter Park, Winter Garden, Longwood, Gainesville, Jacksonville and East Orlando. Additional locations are slated to open in Orange Park, Tampa and Tallahassee.  

Prior to serving as the president of a $1.4-billion pharmaceutical operation, Rivers lead strategic growth and business development during a 20-year career in healthcare; all the while researching barbecue styles and techniques during his travels.

A heartfelt call in 2004 inspired Rivers to help raise funds to offset the overwhelming cost of cancer treatment for a six-year-old girl and also brought his backyard passion to new heights. Moved by the family’s story, Rivers organized a barbecue fundraiser that resulted in more than 500 attendees and the launch of what he dubbed his barbecue ministry. For the next five years, Rivers fired-up the smoker anytime a family, church, school or charity was in need of help.

Working from his garage, Rivers’ barbecue ministry quickly grew in popularity, prompting his decision to retire from corporate America to pursue his passion of cooking and serving others by opening the first 4 Rivers Smokehouse in October 2009. Smoking more than 15,000 pounds of meat per week, the smokehouse quickly became one of the fastest-growing restaurants in Central Florida, serving a line of guests waiting up to 45 minutes to eat on picnic tables under an outside patio at his 1,300-square-foot restaurant.

The concept immediately garnered recognition with three consecutive Silver Spoon Awards from Orlando Life and “Best Barbecue” acknowledgements by Orlando Life, Orlando Sentinel, Orlando Business Journal, Orlando Magazine and Orlando Weekly - also for five consecutive years. Rivers has appeared on NBC and FOX morning shows, as well as The Good Life Network.

He has been celebrated nationally on TravelandLesiure.com and in Food & Wine, Cooking Light, Cigar Aficionado, Restaurant Business, FOOD Magazine, Plate Magazine, The Local Palate, Food Arts and Cooking with Paula Deen. In 2014, 4 Rivers Smokehouse was featured as a “2014 Breakout Brand” in Nation’s Restaurant News.

In addition to contributing to Cowboys & Indians Magazine, Rivers was invited to cook at Meatopia, the 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festivals, and his brisket was recognized in Cooking Light’s 2012 Taste Test Awards. In 2013 Rivers was invited to and participated in Atlanta Food & Wine Festival’s Tasting Tent barbecue trail as a guest chef. Rivers returned to the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival in 2014 as a barbecue trail participant. He also led an insightful seminar on the art of smoking brisket.

Rivers was nominated as a finalist for the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year® 2013 award in Florida as the hospitality candidate for the Central Florida division. In 2013, Rivers released his first cookbook, The Southern Cowboy, and debuted at the James Beard House in New York City with a sold-out dinner on August 1, 2013.

Always evolving, John Rivers hatched a new concept, The COOP,The COOP, a southern-inspired, fast-casual concept located at 610 West Morse Boulevard in Winter Park, Florida in April 2014.

Rivers is a graduate of the Florida State University School of Business, serves on the boards of numerous school and community-based charity organizations and currently resides in Winter Park, Florida with his lovely wife Monica and two children, Jared and Cameron.

John Rivers’ diverse career experience spans two decades and ranges from managing a billion-dollar pharmaceutical distribution operation to creating one of the fastest-growing restaurant concepts in the Southeast. Rivers’ Texas-inspired brand, 4 Rivers Smokehouse, is located throughout Florida in Winter Park, Winter Garden, Longwood, Gainesville, Jacksonville and East Orlando. Additional locations are slated to open in Orange Park, Tampa and Tallahassee.  

Prior to serving as the president of a $1.4-billion pharmaceutical operation, Rivers lead strategic growth and business development during a 20-year career in healthcare; all the while researching barbecue styles and techniques during his travels.

A heartfelt call in 2004 inspired Rivers to help raise funds to offset the overwhelming cost of cancer treatment for a six-year-old girl and also brought his backyard passion to new heights. Moved by the family’s story, Rivers organized a barbecue fundraiser that resulted in more than 500 attendees and the launch of what he dubbed his barbecue ministry. For the next five years, Rivers fired-up the smoker anytime a family, church, school or charity was in need of help.

Working from his garage, Rivers’ barbecue ministry quickly grew in popularity, prompting his decision to retire from corporate America to pursue his passion of cooking and serving others by opening the first 4 Rivers Smokehouse in October 2009. Smoking more than 15,000 pounds of meat per week, the smokehouse quickly became one of the fastest-growing restaurants in Central Florida, serving a line of guests waiting up to 45 minutes to eat on picnic tables under an outside patio at his 1,300-square-foot restaurant.

The concept immediately garnered recognition with three consecutive Silver Spoon Awards from Orlando Life and “Best Barbecue” acknowledgements by Orlando Life, Orlando Sentinel, Orlando Business Journal, Orlando Magazine and Orlando Weekly - also for five consecutive years. Rivers has appeared on NBC and FOX morning shows, as well as The Good Life Network.

He has been celebrated nationally on TravelandLesiure.com and in Food & Wine, Cooking Light, Cigar Aficionado, Restaurant Business, FOOD Magazine, Plate Magazine, The Local Palate, Food Arts and Cooking with Paula Deen. In 2014, 4 Rivers Smokehouse was featured as a “2014 Breakout Brand” in Nation’s Restaurant News.

In addition to contributing to Cowboys & Indians Magazine, Rivers was invited to cook at Meatopia, the 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festivals, and his brisket was recognized in Cooking Light’s 2012 Taste Test Awards. In 2013 Rivers was invited to and participated in Atlanta Food & Wine Festival’s Tasting Tent barbecue trail as a guest chef. Rivers returned to the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival in 2014 as a barbecue trail participant. He also led an insightful seminar on the art of smoking brisket.

Rivers was nominated as a finalist for the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year® 2013 award in Florida as the hospitality candidate for the Central Florida division. In 2013, Rivers released his first cookbook, The Southern Cowboy, and debuted at the James Beard House in New York City with a sold-out dinner on August 1, 2013.

Always evolving, John Rivers hatched a new concept, The COOP,The COOP, a southern-inspired, fast-casual concept located at 610 West Morse Boulevard in Winter Park, Florida in April 2014.

Rivers is a graduate of the Florida State University School of Business, serves on the boards of numerous school and community-based charity organizations and currently resides in Winter Park, Florida with his lovely wife Monica and two children, Jared and Cameron.