Orlando-based 4 Rivers Smokehouse will open its 12th location next summer on Osceola Parkway directly across from The Crosslands shopping center.
The family-owned restaurant chain voted best barbecue by Orlando Sentinel voters opens its much-anticipated downtown Orlando location at City Hall Tuesday and is building its second Tampa location.
"The truth is I wasn't going to open another Central Florida location," founder John Rivers said. "But we've been inundated with requests from our fans and guests from Osceola County and the Hunters Creek area. I meet so many of them on Saturdays at our Winter Park store, and they're just so loyal to us."
Rivers told GrowthSpotter he looked at the Lake Nona area but felt it didn't have the demographics he was looking for. "I love that area - and I think it will get there - but it's a good 3-5 years before it develops," he said. "At this location, the people are already there."
Plus the property owner, Tupperware Brands, actively pursued the smokehouse. "They came after us, and they were very kind to us," he said. "So it's the right mix of a marketplace that's very loyal to us and is asking us to come and serve them combined with a landlord who is also a big fan."
Tupperware Vice President Tom Roehlk said the company, through subsidiary Deerfield Land Development, executed the lease late last week. "We're excited," he said. "They're wildly successful - they've become a phenomenon. We're lucky we snagged them for their first Osceola location."
Construction starts this month on the 5,000-square-foot restaurant. The project is part of an 8-acre development called Cinque Terre that also includes a 55,000-square-foot Burlington Coat Factory and 40,000-square-foot 24 Hour Fitness center.
Four Rivers Smokehouse is best known for top-notch brisket, sausage and other smoked meats. The restaurants feature long communal dining tables, but Rivers said each location incorporates elements from the local community.
"The downtown store is a little more edgy," he said. "For the Osceola store I really want to pay homage to the Florida cowboy. I want to try to find authentic pieces and photographs from some of the old ranching families."
Interplan is the architecture firm. Rivers said once the restaurant is fully permitted, he will put the construction contract out to bid. "We've always used Friedrich Watkins to build the restaurants. As long as they come in with a competitive bid, I don't see why we wouldn't stay with them."