SDC Opens New Restaurant Under Guidance of Longtime Employee

by: David Chasanov, Ozarks First

Silver Dollar City’s 60th season is officially underway and guests are in for some new park features.

Including a new restaurant called Rivertown Smokehouse.

The director of food and beverage at SDC, Sam Hedrick, has been working at the park since he was 14 years old.

“Started at the barbecue restaurant, the original barbecue restaurant. It was my first day, I bussed tables,” Hedrick said.

Hedrick says he never thought this would be his career.

“In some of my early days it was all about just trying to earn money so I could maybe buy a truck or whatever when I was in high school,” Hedrick said.

But once he turned 16, things changed.

“Started learning to cook,” Hedrick said. “Started learning to cook our great pork, our great ribs that we had out here, and then just continued to enjoy food and food service at the park here.”

It wasn’t just the food that has kept Hedrick at the park for 27 years.

“It’s a combination of things,” Hedrick said.

Like his family.

“My wife worked out here at one time, my mom worked out here,” Hedrick said.

And his co-workers.

“The people here are my family as well,” Hedrick said. “Our employees have tremendous compassion and caring, not just for our guests but for each other, and really support each other throughout anything that comes our way.”

One employee he’s gotten to know is Jim Clohessey, the Master Smoker at Rivertown Smokehouse.

“At the beginning of my interview, we hit it off. I think he hired me before the interview was even over. I’m very grateful,” Clohessey said.

Clohessey is eleven weeks into his job as master smoker.

He says it’s been rewarding to learn from Hedrick.

“I’m taking a class called leading with love,” Clohessey said. “Which I’ve never really had to deal with anywhere in the professional culinary industry. That’s the motto here… is to run your responsibilities with a loving attitude. It’s amazing.”

It’s a motto that he says makes him love his new job.

“I have been doing this every day my entire life, and I can’t wait to go to work tomorrow,” Clohessey said.

Clohessey has been in the food business for more than 45 years.

He says he loves Branson and wants to retire there.

Click here for full feature from Ozarks First.

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