John Bishop Retiring, Closing Kitsilano’s Iconic Bishop’s Restaurant This Summer After 35 Years

Big news just landed in my inbox. I’d heard this was coming, but still…

From the press release:

Bishop’s, one of Vancouver’s best-loved restaurants, is closing its doors August 1st, as proprietor John Bishop retires to write and spend more time with his family. Opened in 1985, a year before Expo 86, Bishop’s is synonymous with farm-to-table ingredients, west coast hospitality, and great food.

“It has been a terrific run,” said Bishop. “After 35 years, our customers have become good friends, but now I want to spend more time with my own family and get to work on another book. I also want to use these next few months to say thank you to my customers and our entire team, the people who made all of this possible. My name may be on the door, but Bishop’s is all about a team effort, and that includes the dozens of local farms and suppliers who provide us with the incredible seasonal ingredients we prepare for your plate.”

Bishop, 75, began his career at 15, filling creamer jugs and delivering breakfast trays at the Elephant & Castle Hotel near his home in Newtown, Wales. A year later, he was accepted into the Llandudno Hotel and Catering College. In 1973, Bishop left Britain for Canada, becoming a Canadian citizen in 2000.

“I fell in love with Vancouver immediately, and that’s never changed in 47 years,” added Bishop who has authored four cookbooks on everything from the importance of fresh, local ingredients, to favorite family recipes from his own home kitchen, but for his customers and staff, Bishop’s legendary hospitality is his hallmark.

“John Bishop treated his staff like family,” said Chris Stewart, who is the owner of Sorella, La Buca and the Sardine Can, and a Bishop’s alumnus. “If you needed something to do your job better, it was there the next day.”

Iron Chef Rob Feenie, who did a short stint at Bishop’s in 1988, added that John Bishop remains “the best host in town.”

Vikram Vij, who opened the original Vij’s Restaurant on Broadway after four years at Bishop’s, said Bishop “has a subtle way of making every customer feel like they’re the most important person in the room.” James Barber, Canadian cookbook author and celebrated TV host wrote, “Bishop’s defines what a small restaurant ought to be.”

Recognized with a lifetime achievement award in 1997 by Vancouver Magazine, and again in 2016, Bishop is characterized by food critic and restaurant awards judge, Lee Man, as a pioneer who transformed Vancouver’s restaurants. “He helped us understand that our food ingredients have worth and value, and that they are just as good as anything else around the world,” explained Man in a Vancouver Magazine feature about Bishop.

Bishop said he will be organizing some special nights before he turns off the lights for the last time.

“I want to find some special ways to celebrate and thank our customers,” adds Bishop. “I might even try and get some of our alumni chefs back together for one incredibly memorable meal that hits all the high notes of the past 35 years.”

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There are 7 comments

  1. 35 years in the restraunt buisness
    Is a incredible accomplishment. What a beautuful story you can be sure all your fans will be looking forward to the book

  2. Well, I guess we knew this might happen, but I can’t help but feel sad – for all of us who have so enjoyed and appreciated the special atmosphere and culinary delights at ‘Bishop’s’……thank you, John, Abel, and all the Staff. We’ll be in to see you as often as possible before the final closing of the doors… many memories….Liz Meekison

  3. During my many visits to Vancouver to see my children, Bishop’s was always a must for dinner, and John became a friend. I wish him the very best in his future
    endeavors, and will treasure the memories of those
    wonderful meals
    Ellie Schatz

  4. Always enjoyed going to Bishop’s for dinner. Have been going there since the restaurant first opened. John and his staff always have made the customers feel more than welcome – always great food and service. It is sad to see another great restaurant close in Vancouver – the city just isn’t the same anymore. All the best in the last few months that you are open. Will definitely be in before you close. You will all be missed. Looking forward to the book that you are going to publish.

  5. The consummate host in all of Vancouver. Spent many memorable nights with my wife and/or our three children at Bishop’s. Was where we as a family celebrated the beginning of the school year and celebrated the end of the school year!!! Celebrated Christmas, Birthdays, and Anniversaries year after year. Also my daughter Tia and myself were blessed to celebrate the last lunch that John prepared— he especially went to G Isle to buy lamb sausage for Tia as that was her favourite. We were so blessed to have a John and his staff in our life for 25++ years.
    All the best and we will definitely be there to celebrate with you and your staff the next chapter.

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