Fine-dining institution Bishop's closes its doors in Vancouver — for good, this time

·2 min read
John Bishop says every piece of silverware and dining ware at Bishop's holds memories from 36 years of serving local food. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC - image credit)
John Bishop says every piece of silverware and dining ware at Bishop's holds memories from 36 years of serving local food. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC - image credit)

One of Vancouver's most well-known fine dining establishments is closing after more than three decades serving meals inspired by the West Coast's local produce.

The kitchen of Bishop's restaurant on West 4th Ave. in Kitsilano has been home to many celebrity chefs over the years, including Iron Chef Rob Feenie, and Vikram Vij.

The restaurant weathered COVID-19 uncertainty for months, even announcing it would shut down in the spring of 2020, but owner John Bishop says a huge rent increase from a new landlord means this time, the restaurant is closing for good.

"I finally took the very difficult decision to actually close," he said. "It was not easy."

The rent is being increased to $100 per square foot — a cost Bishop says he can't afford, especially given the struggles of the pandemic.

Maggie MacPherson/CBC
Maggie MacPherson/CBC

Bishop has spent the last few days packing up the dining room and kitchen.

"It's empty, but it never feels empty," he told host Gloria Macarenko of CBC's On The Coast. "There's always these sort of ghostly voices and stuff still lingering."

The restaurant's old kitchenware is being donated to charity while the remaining will be sold at an auction on Jan. 22.

Bishop says the highlight of the auction is a silver duck press made in the 1920s, from the famed 21 Club in New York.

"I bought it as an iconic piece of silver to display, but we used it over the years," he said.

When he opened the restaurant in 1986, Bishop says the concept of serving local produce and changing the menu seasonally was new to diners.

"It was a trend that continued to grow, and I supported and was very proud that it defined our menus with seasonal local produce."

The stakes are higher in the restaurant industry these days, according to Bishop. Supplies are more expensive and staff are scarce.

Nevertheless, he enjoyed running the restaurant, and says exciting things are happening in the local food scene.

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