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.”