“As you can imagine, I’m especially excited about this particular opening and being able to bring my brand back home,” he said.
Rivers will open the first Jacksonville location of his chain by April in Baymeadows. The company is based in Winter Park and has three locations in the Orlando area.
Rivers said in an email he grew up in the Southside and graduated in 1984 from Bishop Kenny High School. His first job was at The Loop Pizza Grill in San Marco. The Loop was founded by Mike and Terry Schneider and is Jacksonville-based.
“I started washing dishes for Mike the day I turned 16 and stayed with him until I graduated and moved away to college in ‘84,” Rivers said.
Rivers graduated from Florida State University and moved to Dallas in 1989 after a brief time in Jacksonville in 1990 before being transferred to Orlando.
He spent 20 years in health care that took him to St. Louis and back to Orlando in 1999, where he settled.
The 4rsmokehouse.com site says Rivers had experience managing a pharmaceutical and distribution operation before “opening one of the fastest growing new restaurants in the Southeast with his Texas-inspired 4 Rivers Smokehouses.”
According to the website, Rivers is the former president of CuraScript Specialty Distribution, described as a $1.4 billion pharmaceutical operation. He also held the positions of director of the Strategic Business Group for Johnson & Johnson, Cordis Division and vice president of National Accounts for American Home Products.
“These experiences parlayed into the business strategies for his new company formed in 2007,” it said, which was 4R Ventures LLC, the parent company of 4R Restaurant Group, which opened its first location in October 2009; 4R Foods; and 4R Signature Products, which manufactures and distributes the 4R line of sauces, rubs and smoked brisket throughout the United States.
Rivers, the owner and pit master, also launched a line of sauces and rubs along with mail-order brisket, turkey and desserts.
The “4” represents Rivers, his wife and two children.
4 Rivers Smokehouse founder John Rivers said the Oct. 16 Daily Record report about his plans to open in his hometown of Jacksonville “caused quite the stir among my friends and family.”