A barbecue chicken sandwich topped with pepper jack cheese and all-natural cherry smoked bacon is more than a meal, it's a sign that even in an incredibly competitive restaurant world, some outlets can find a way to collaborate.
4 Rivers Smokehouse and PDQ, two restaurants owned by separate entities, have teamed up to create the 4 Rivers Smokehouse Sandwich, which went on sale Thursday (Sept. 15) and will be available exclusively at 19 PDQ locations throughout Tampa Bay and North and Central Florida.
During the months of September and October, PDQ will donate $1 from every sandwich sold to the 4R Foundation.
"I think we can raise a significant amount of money," said Nick Reader, PDQ CEO and co-founder.
Reader and 4 Rivers Chef-Owner John Rivers first met through a mutual friend, but Reader said that he was already a fan of Rivers and 4 Rivers Smokehouse. Due to their similar beliefs about charitable endeavors and commitment to offering quality food, the two restaurants decided to collaborate.
"It's nice when you find other corporations that share the same values," Rivers said. "It's a great chance to combine our efforts to help people. That's something that's important to all of us."
As far as any competitive rivalry, Reader said he takes a different perspective.
"With the restaurant industry, there's two schools of thought," Reader said. "There's, 'We're competitors and we have to hate each other and trash everybody else,' and then I think there's a lot of people like ourselves.
"People like great food, and there's nothing wrong with admitting that different concepts are great. There are lots of learnings that we can get from each other, really bouncing ideas off each other."
Last year, PDQ entered into a similar arrangement with the Angus Barn in Raleigh, N.C., for a special sandwich sold in that state.
This latest collaboration centers as much on shared commitments as sharing ideas. In 2015, Rivers established the 4R Foundation, a nonprofit organization focused on leading innovative, healthy community initiatives. One of these initiatives is to expand access to fresh, local food. Rivers said that last year, the 4R Foundation touched 900 different families and organizations.
The sandwich, which features a chicken breast dipped in a blend of 4 Rivers' homemade signature and mustard barbecue sauces and served on a brioche bun with a fresh avocado herb sauce and shredded cabbage, represents a chance to help people in need and try a new food item.
"We've never put it into a barbecue sandwich before, so that part is very unique," Rivers said.
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