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Iconic Vancouver fine-dining restaurant officially closed after 36 years

COVID restrictions, a new landlord and "a whopping rent increase" brought the long story to an end
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Kitsilano's Bishop's opened in 1985, and closed for good on Dec. 31, 2021. Bishop's Restaurant / Facebook

The last chapter of Vancouver fine-dining spot Bishop's restaurant didn't play out as planned.

In March 2020, just before COVID-19 forced the industry into a tailspin, chef-owner John Bishop announced he was retiring and said he would shutter his namesake Kitsilano restaurant in August of that year. A full slate of celebrations were in the works, including plans to have former chefs return to the Bishop's kitchen for a dinner series, along with plenty of opportunities for fans to have a last supper at the legendary spot.

Instead, Bishop's opted to hang on a little longer, launching take-out meals in 2020 and ultimately returning to welcoming guests into its elegant dining room.

However, the end came on Dec. 31, 2021, as Bishop's served its last meal, bringing the restaurant's 36-year-old story to an end.

“After nearly two years of COVID uncertainty we thought we had made it, but a new landlord and a whopping rent increase made it impossible to continue,” says Bishop in a statement published to the Bishop's website.

“It turns out that Vancouver isn’t just an expensive place to live, it’s also an incredibly expensive place to do business, every restaurant and neighbourhood business knows that firsthand. With the help of our staff and customers, we made it through the worst of the pandemic, but a hefty rent increase, particularly these days, made it impossible to think about continuing," adds the proprietor and esteemed chef.

Bishop went on to thank the loyal patrons who kept coming back: “We were not just a place to come for a special occasion, we had locals drop in throughout the week because they knew us and we knew them. I can’t say enough about our wonderful customers and also our terrific staff who made Bishop’s such a success for so many years.”

Launched in 1985, Bishop's has been a staple in the city's farm-to-table movement and elegant dining.

During Bishop's 36-year tenure, the restaurant saw many of its chefs go on to great success, including Iron Chef Canada and Vancouver celeb chef Rob Feenie.

Industry peers have long lauded Bishop for his food and hospitality. Among those is Vancouver's Vikram Vij, who said Bishop "has a subtle way of making every customer feel like they're the most important person in the room."

The restaurant's contents will be sold at auction later this month, notes Bishop's on its website.