If you can't get enough 'cue, a new barbecue establishment will be making its way to Broward County this month. 4 Rivers Smokehouse will open its first South Florida location in Coral Springs on Thursday, September 8.
The restaurant, tucked inside the Walk of Coral Springs shopping center, will span more than 5,000 square feet with ample indoor-outdoor seating.
Chef-owner John Rivers established 4 Rivers Smokehouse in 2009 and has since grown the business to over 12 locations across the state — but he'll tell you he never set out to create one of Florida's most successful fast-casual barbecue restaurant chains.
Instead, Rivers spent 20 years in the healthcare industry before retiring in 2004 as president of a billion-dollar company. During that time, he had the opportunity to travel the country, honing his taste and talent for barbecue. That same year, his barbecue passion led to the launch of what Rivers calls his "barbecue ministry," hosting cookout fundraisers to help those in need.
The first event was organized to help a local family with a daughter battling cancer, a passion that grew into a large-scale effort supporting local schools, churches, and charitable organizations. A few years later, the 4 Rivers Winter Park restaurant was born.
"This was never supposed to be a restaurant," said Rivers. "My definition of helping meant doing what felt most natural when comfort was in order. In other words, feed those in need."
Today, 4 Rivers Smokehouse has been recognized as one of the “Top 10 Breakout Brands” by Nation's Restaurant News — and has been featured in Bon Appétit, Cowboys & Indians, Saveur, The Local Palate, and Food & Wine — for its cross-regional approach to barbecue. The restaurant is best-known for its specialty, the brand's signature 18-hour smoked Angus brisket, which Rivers says is projected to sell close to 1.5 million pounds across his 12 locations this year alone.
At each Smokehouse, guests will find a fast-casual setup with a carving station where they can select cut-to-order meats followed by a selection of homestyle sides, ranging from pulled pork and chicken to burnt ends, tri-tip, and beef ribs.
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Among the eight composed Signature Stackers dishes are the Smokehouse Cuban, BBQ Street Tacos, and the Texas Destroyer, smoked brisket topped with onion rings, jalapeños, and melted provolone cheese. The Messy Pig is another fan favorite: pulled pork between two layers of coleslaw, pickles, and jalapeños, all of which have the option to be combined with a choice of two out of 16 mix-and-match sides. Made fresh daily, they include barbecue beans, collard greens, and smoked jalapeños.
Vegetarian-friendly offerings include sides like potato salad, cornbread, and baked cheese grits while a newly launched “from the farm” section gives guests the option of five meat-free dishes. Southern-inspired desserts round out the menu and include bread pudding, fried Oreos, and the restaurant's signature Banana Dream Pudding and Chocolate Awesomeness.
4 Rivers Smokehouse. 2660 N. University Dr., Coral Springs; 407-474-8377; 4rsmokehouse.com.
Nicole Danna is a food writer covering Broward and Palm Beach counties. To get the latest in food and drink news in South Florida, follow her @SoFloNicole or find her latest food pics on the BPB New Times Food & Drink Instagram.