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Restaurant founder will discuss chasing a life passion at Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast

John Rivers, 4 Rivers Smokehouse founder

When he speaks at the Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast in Apopka on May 4, John Rivers, owner of 4 Rivers Smokehouse, a regional barbecue chain, will talk about how pursuing a passion in life can be risky, but with faith in God, one can have the strength to chase after that passion.

One of Rivers’ passions is barbecue. He began smoking meats at home and that grew into a barbecue ministry where he first helped a local family whose young daughter was battling cancer. That blossomed into a passion for supporting local schools, churches, and charitable organizations.

In 2009, that passion took a leap into his first restaurant in Winter Park and 4 Rivers Smokehouse was born.

“It’s quite hard to explain how much we’ve grown from just running the barbecue ministry in the garage seven-and-a-half years ago,” Rivers said this week in a telephone interview.

“We struggled so much to open that first little restaurant in Winter Park back in 2009. If you posed the thought of getting ready to open our 15th store up in Atlanta seven-and-a-half years later, I would likely have shot you.”

Opening that first restaurant and subsequent ones throughout Florida and one that will open later this year near Georgia Tech in Atlanta, Rivers relied on his faith to get him through the times when he faced obstacles.

Rivers is in much demand as a speaker, but he said he’s looking forward to the Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast at the Apopka Community Center/VFW in early May.

Hosted by the Apopka Christian Ministerial Alliance, the breakfast will be held Thursday, May 4, at the Apopka Community Center/VFW, 519 S. Central Avenue.

Tickets to the event are $25 per person and must be purchased prior to the event. No tickets will be sold at the door. Tickets are available at The Apopka Chief/The Planter office, 400 N. Park Avenue, and at the Apopka Area Chamber of Commerce office, 180 E. Main Street.

The doors and breakfast buffet will open that day at 6:30 a.m. with the program beginning at 7 a.m.

Read more of the John Rivers interview in the Friday, March 17, issue of The Apopka Chief.