Episode 43

Now to Next with Nick Nanton Feat. John Rivers

Welcome back to the latest installment of Now to Next with Nick Nanton! In this episode, Nick sits down with John Rivers, Founder of 4 Rivers Smokehouse and the CEO of 4 Roots, an urban farm and agricultural education and food-distribution center, to discuss John's extraordinary work in the agriculture space.

John’s path to running the most successful barbecue chain in Florida is far from conventional. He is not a classically trained chef or graduate of culinary school, but rather spent 20 years in the healthcare industry, retiring as president of a billion-dollar company in order to pursue his lifelong dream of owning a restaurant.

4 Rivers Smokehouse began in 2004 as a ‘barbecue ministry’ after John hosted a cookout to support a local family whose daughter was battling cancer. John spent the next several years smoking brisket out of his garage before opening his first restaurant in Orlando in 2009.

Today, 4R Restaurant Group has 22 locations in Florida, 4 Rivers has been voted “Best BBQ in the South” by Southern Living Magazine, and John has been named a finalist for the EY Entrepreneur of the Year Award two times.

Through all the growth and success, John’s “barbecue ministry” remains at the heart of his company’s mission to lift up those in need and to support the local community.


  • 0:17 - Show introduction and overview on John Rivers
  • 2:42 - John being named President and what this did for him
  • 5:43 - "You have to let go of something good to grab something great"
  • 11:22 - The proper tool when it comes to smoking briskets
  • 12:15 - John feeds 450 people and decides to quit his job
  • 22:49 - How hard it was to open his second restaurant
  • 24:41 - John's observations on the food supply business
  • 31:00 - Starting 4 Roots and what it accomplishes
  • 35:12 - Where people can learn more about 4 Roots and getting involved
  • 36:03 - Closing remarks

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About the Podcast

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Now to Next with Nick Nanton
On Now to Next, Nick Nanton sits down with specialists from all walks of life to discuss what’s happening right now in their prospective field, and where the future lies for a positive tomorrow.