Retiring as president of a $1.5 billion dollar company, John Rivers left a career of twenty years in healthcare to pursue a lifelong dream of opening a restaurant. In 2009, he created his first concept, 4 Rivers Smokehouse, which quickly became one of the fastest growing restaurants in the southeast.
With fourteen locations in Florida and Georgia, the success and popularity of 4 Rivers Smokehouse and John's second concept, the Southern-inspired COOP, have garnered national recognition. MSN named 4 Rivers as the #1 BBQ restaurant chain in the country, and Nation’s Restaurant News recognized 4 Rivers as one of their top five breakout brands. Restaurant Business named John as one of the Power 20 Leaders in the restaurant industry, Orlando Magazine included him among Orlando’s “50 Most Powerful, 15 to Watch,” and John has twice been named a finalist for the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award.
John has twice been invited to cook at the prestigious James Beard House in New York City and has enjoyed participating at the Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival and the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival for the last 7 consecutive years. He has appeared on numerous television shows and has been featured in national publications including Food & Wine, Bon Appetit, Zagat.com, USA Today, Cigar Aficionado, Business Insider, Cooking Light Magazine, and Paula Deen Magazine.
John also authored his first book, “The Southern Cowboy Cookbook,” that has enjoyed success at Barnes & Noble, Costco and Amazon.com. He has also launched a line of retail and manufactured products currently enjoying shelf space at Publix and Costco, which are being distributed nationally by partners such as Sysco, US Foods, and Aramark, and Sodexo.
A graduate of Florida State University College of Business, where he serves on the Board of Governors, John chairs the 4R Foundation and is co-founder of Winter Park’s largest culinary festival, “Cows ‘n Cabs.” John lives in Winter Park with his wife Monica and two children, Jared and Cameron, where he serves on the boards of numerous school, church, and charity organizations.