Atlanta Restaurant Scene

Florida-based barbecue chain opening West Midtown location

Last December, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that 4 Rivers Smokehouse would be opening a location in Atlanta , the first outside of Florida for the barbecue chain.

More details have emerged about the newest 4 Rivers Smokehouse, which will make its home in a renovated firehouse at 822 Marietta Street, next door to Thumbs Up Diner in West Midtown. The restaurant is on track to open in May, upon renovation of the fire station, which was built in 1915 and in service until 1963.

The smokehouse will span approximately 5,300 square feet. It will hold seating for 166, including outdoor space on the ground floor and an upstairs balcony.


Concrete and original brick walls will lend the space a rustic, urban look, said chef-owner John Rivers, who opened the first 4 Rivers Smokehouse in Winter Park, Fla., in 2009. It currently has 13 locations throughout Florida.

Rivers stated that the interior design at each of his smokehouses gives a nod to the local area. Artwork at the West Midtown location will include a variety of enlarged vintage black and white photos of the area – including a photo of the opening day of the fire station taken more than a century ago. In some instances, images from old photos will be recreated as wall-size murals.

The 4 Rivers Smokehouse menu draws flavors and styles from the Southeast, Midwest, Atlantic and West Coast regions. Its traditional Smokehouse offerings range from the signature 30-day-aged Smoked Angus Brisket, St. Louis Ribs, Southern Pulled Pork and Smoked Chicken & Turkey to Burnt Ends, Tri-Tip and a Brontosaurus Beef Rib. “Signature Stackers” include the Messy Pig - a combination of Southern Pulled Pork, coleslaw, pickles and jalapeños, as well as the Smokehouse Cuban, BBQ Street Tacos and the Texas Destroyer of aged brisket topped with onion rings, jalapeños and melted provolone cheese. It has 16 home-style side dishes and a “From the Farm” section of meat-free offerings.

Rivers developed an interest in Atlanta after having participated in the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival for the last five years. “We do South Beach and a lot of other food and wine festivals around the country," he said. He is attracted to Atlanta because of “the nature of the people, who are so friendly and polite.” He also liked the “community aspect” of Atlanta’s chefs. “Of all the other communities we’re in, I’ve never seen it so close-knit,” Rivers said.

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About the Author

Ligaya Figueras joined the AJC as its food and dining editor in 2015.