SURF CITY — On Sunday award-winning chef Bud Taylor announced that his restaurant, The Bistro at Topsail, will be closed permanently due to damages sustained by Hurricane Florence compounded by personal health issues.
On a message posted to The Bistro’s website, Taylor said the restaurant “suffered a massive amount of damage” from Hurricane Florence.
“I have spent the last six months struggling to return my life and business back to the place it was before [the storm],” Taylor wrote. “The layers of destruction Florence left seem to never end.”
But he said the problems began in January 2018 when he was admitted to an emergency room for shortness of breath, where irregular and high heart rates were detected. Months later he was diagnosed with congestive heart failure, according to Taylor.
“By early June my heart function had reduced to 34 percent and the decision was made to undergo a surgical procedure to try and correct the problems. The week of the surgery in mid-July my heart function was measured at 26%,” Taylor said.
Although the surgery was successful, Taylor said the time he later took away from the restaurant business after Florence led to positive health and lifestyle changes. He said he realized “that while I wasn’t abusing alcohol or drugs, I had for years been abusing my body, my health, my relationships and the few friendships that had survived the last 26 years in the restaurant business.”
He said these improvements led to his decision to not reopen the restaurant.
“I think we are going out on top,” Taylor said. “We garnered awards and recognition that put us in very select company in this industry.”
In 2017 Taylor was a NCRLA Best Chef North Carolina finalist and won the James Beard Foundation’s Blended Burger Project. The Bistro has also been featured in Food & Wine and Forbes magazines as a “Top 100 Most Scenic Restaurant in America”, according to the Bistro’s website. The restaurant sits on Waters Bay just east of Surf City’s new 3,600-foot high-rise bridge.
The website also mentioned that Taylor and his team received Awards of Excellence from Wine Spectator Magazine four consecutive years.
Taylor opened the Bistro in 2007, then purchased a farm in Holly Ridge in 2014 to grow tomatoes, bush beans, okra, and other produce that worked well with his “classic Southern and coastal” dishes using local and seasonal ingredients, according to a brief biography found on the restaurant’s website.
Last November the restaurant announced it would be opening this March. In December Taylor hosted a cooking class at the Seasoned Gourmet in Wilmington featuring roasted North Carolina sweet potato bisque and cornmeal crusted North Carolina catfish.