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Legendary Vancouver restaurateur John Bishop announces retirement

John Bishop
John Bishop

One of Vancouver's most iconic restaurants is sadly closing Aug. 1. After a legendary 35 years of great success, John Bishop recently announced that he is hanging up his apron and entering retirement.

Bishop’s restaurant opened in 1985 as a trailblazer featuring farm to table cuisine and sourcing local ingredients. Renowned for his high standards of cuisine and service, Bishop is beloved as a true gentleman in the industry who influenced some of the city’s biggest food stars including Vikram Vij and James Walt (Araxi), who spent time in his kitchen.

"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."

John Bishop has always offered his customers a warm and personal experience at his charming little bistro.
John Bishop has always offered his customers a warm and personal experience at his charming little bistro.
Image Credit: FB/Bishops

Bishop’s was also one of the first to support the burgeoning B.C. wine industry, choosing to add many local labels to his wine list.

 “Certainly from the opening of the restaurant we endeavoured to feature a good percentage of local wines as well as international wines. I did this with the help of a wonderful local agent, Philip Holzberg who was one of the co-founders of “The Grapevine”, a wine importing club," Bishop says. "We were the first restaurant to list Blue Mountain wines with the Mavety family. The list has grown since; 60% of Bishop’s current wine sales are locally produced wines. Our philosophy at Bishops, although not exclusively is local food with local wine, as it makes such great pairings."

As to the future of the B.C. wine industry, he added: “British Columbia wines have garnered an international reputation despite their small production. As a long time industry member, we would all like to see access to wholesale pricing and more privatization.”

Bishop, 75, began his career at age 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.

Bishop's offers a 60% B.C. wines on its well appointed wine list.
Image Credit: FB/Bishops

"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 favourite family recipes from his own home kitchen, but for his customers and staff, Bishop's legendary hospitality is his hallmark.

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.

As for retirement plans, Bishop says, “I don’t have any formal plans in the near future other than continue with my work with (local charity) “Journeys With Heart” and finishing a book.

Make your reservations now, you still have a few months to enjoy the Bishop's experience.

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