The restaurant business is notoriously fickle. Chefs come and go, gastronomic trends emerge and wane, and reputations rise and fall based on whims of fashion as much as experiences delivered.
Which is why it takes an exceptional restaurant not only to endure but to consistently excel. Bishop’s, in Vancouver, is such a restaurant. For over 30 years the namesake restaurant of restaurateur John Bishop has been a fixture in the top-tier of West Coast dining establishments.
How? What is the secret to such enduring success?
Of course, it has to start with the food. In the early days Bishop partnered with select farmers and was a pioneer in developing seasonal menus with a local focus. Knowing where ingredients come from, understanding how they are grown, and being a stickler for freshness are foundational to his approach. And having honed his concepts of menu creation, he does not get distracted by mimicking the trends of the day on one hand or endlessly experimenting on the other.
The next ingredient: service. When dining at Bishop’s it’s immediately apparent that the employees are not simply restaurant staff but skilled, service providers. The hostess who exudes a comforting warmth. The servers who convey professionalism, but not pretention. Who connect through sincerity, not excessive familiarity. And John himself who greets every guest and who has been described as, “the world’s most gracious host.” The overall experience is consistent and smooth – not surprising once you learn that many of the staff have been at Bishop’s for over 20 years.
Yet beyond the food and service there is something else that Bishop learned early on, something that has been seared into his core as a restaurateur: a meticulous attention to detail. A painstaking rigor around standards. A relentless commitment to check, check, and check again. It is this commitment that perpetuates the Bishop’s experience.
It is because of all this that he has served Presidents and Prime Ministers, actors and artists, and has been awarded numerous lifetime achievement awards including the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal in 2003.
To consistently excel is a rare accomplishment. But with the right commitment and right “ingredients” Bishop’s creates an experience worth savoring again and again.