HicksBiz Blog

Hicks on Biz year-ender 2016: The worst is in the past BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: FRIDAY, DECEMBER 30, 2016

I’m going on out a limb. Edmonton Economic Development Corporation head Brad Ferguson is predicting a grim 2017 for Metropolitan Edmonton. City economist John Rose is forecasting a 1.8% growth in the local economy, compared to his prediction of 3.8% growth in 2016. But in my crystal ball, the worst is past. No ideological considerations here, no remarks – however accurate – about monstrous government spending and deficits, about the new “haves” in our society – public-sector employees — and “have-nots” – those without government jobs. All that counts, in this argument, are jobs, jobs, jobs. The New Democrat provincial government, in the short-term, is saving Edmonton’s bacon. It refuses to consider lay-offs, continues to fund the education, health and public sectors at existing levels. Given a quarter of Metro Edmonton’s workforce is found in pubic/quasi-public sectors, this is a good thing; at least until the gove ... Read the rest of entry »

Weekly Dish: Food memories that stick out from 2016 restaurant reviews. BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED Edmonton Sun: TUESDAY, DECEMBER 27, 2016

This was the year when KFC evolved from Kentucky Fried Chicken to Korean Fried Chicken. “Izakaya” was incorporated into the every-day language of Edmonton dining. Sandwiches became more and more interesting. Tapas and small plates became the norm. Octopus, squid, mussels and clams moved into the mainstream, even though lots of prairie folk remain wary. BBQ The $100 Game-Day platter at Sloppy Hoggs Roed Hus on 118th Avenue is piled high with the best of smoked BBQ meats, easily feeding eight. Bison Von’s braised bison short ribs, bison that for once is rich and moist with a cherry molasses sauce. Burgers The BBQ Crunch at Jack’s Burger Shack in St. Albert, with its magnificently seared monster patty, home-made orange soda BBQ sauce, and potato chips in the burger for crunch. A nod for McDonald’s for its new, Create Your Taste “custom” burgers – except there’s no more McDonald’s cost advantage. Charcuterie Past th ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Dear Santa BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: SATURDAY, DECEMBER 24, 2016

Dear Santa, I hope you don’t mind, but can we use your big, fat, jolly shoulder to cry on? We shouldn’t really. Ours are first-world problems. But they’re aggravating! Santa, what happened to the old-fashioned notion that governments should do as little as possible besides take care of the poor, provide security and keep taxes low? Why does Edmonton city council keep sticking its nose into social issues (like low-income housing) that the provincial government is supposed to handle? Shouldn’t the city stick to paving roads, building sidewalks, policing, fire-fighting, basic services … and keep property taxes as low as possible? Santa, this climate-change thing is absurd. We barely contribute to global warming, yet this government acts as if we pollute like China! In the middle of a recession, a huge environmental tax hits us next week pulling even more money out of our pockets.  Then a new bureaucracy will be created to give much of the money back!  Sa ... Read the rest of entry »

Weekly Dish: Edmonton’s leading-edge dining scene BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: TUESDAY, DECEMBER 20, 2016

For years and years, snotty socialites would complain about the Edmonton dining and cultural scene. It was soooo backward here, dahling, compared to that wonderful Toronto or fabulous New York City. Even Calgary was better than plain ol’Edmonton. It drove me nuts – you’d reel off 10 excellent restaurants, they’d not been to one. You’d name 10 recent theatrical productions in this theatre-rich town, and they’d not seen one. They’d not bothered with the symphony or to visit the art gallery. No matter. We were just … backward. The best news of the past year: That complaint is gone! The opposite has happened. Fancy national magazines now send out writers from Toronto to chronicle Edmonton’s leading-edge dining scene. I don’t care if Edmonton is ahead or behind the times. I just live here and thoroughly enjoy what my city has to offer in a staggering array of dining-out options. The number of new, informal, high-quality bistros continues t ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: We mustn’t count our chickens BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: FRIDAY, DECEMBER 16, 2016

Never count your chickens until they hatch. But as the beaks of the baby chicks break through their shells, things look promising. Two new petro-chemical plants have been announced in Alberta’s Industrial Heartland – the enormous industrial park around Fort Saskatchewan. One will be in Sturgeon County, the other in Strathcona County. These are economic development monsters – a total of $5.6 to $6 billion spent over the next four years, 4,000 skilled-trade construction jobs through 2021. Dozens of local fabrication plant bosses aren’t sleeping these days, wondering where new business will come from as the Sturgeon Refinery and Suncor’s Fort Hills oilsands plant finish up construction. Two new petro-chemical plants will be a God-send. But we mustn’t count our chickens quite yet. The boards of the two energy companies involved – Pembina Pipelines (with Kuwaiti partner Petrochemical Industries) and Inter Pipelines – have not yet officially approved ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks Weekly Dish: Opposite but two great places to eat BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: TUESDAY, DECEMBER 13, 2016

Bodega Highlands 6509 112 Ave. 780-757-0137 bodegahighlands.ca 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. (11 p.m. Fri/Sat) Closed Sundays (No reservations outside of groups) Food: 4.5 of 5 Suns Ambience: 4 of 5 Suns Service: 4 of 5 Suns Dinner for two (excluding beverages and tip): basic, $30; loaded, $60   Red Goose Restaurant 9625 66 Ave. 780-435-8661 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Closed Sundays Food: 3.5 of 5 Suns Ambience: 4 of 5 Suns Service: 4 of 5 Suns Lunch for two (excluding beverages and tip): basic, $10; loaded $24   While as opposite as opposite can be, Bodega Highlands and Red Goose are two terrific places to go eat. Highlands is charming in an upscale, informal, old-fashioned way — as if you’ve wandered into a tapas bar in Lisbon ...with a 40C difference in temperature. Red Goose is a magic portal into the 1950s. It’s not trying to be kitschy or retro-fashionable. Korean owners Hank Lee (server) and his wife Chon Lee (cook) simply like the place the way it is ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Adopt-A-Teen - Helping One Family At A Time BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: SATURDAY, DECEMBER 10, 2016

One by one, employees are called into the boss’s office. Termination notices are issued, individuals ushered to their desk with 10 minutes to gather belongings and turn in keys. Security guards escort them to the front door. No one likes layoffs, but, hey, the next day it’ll be business as usual for the organization. Not for the ex-employee, not for her or his family. Especially with Christmas approaching. Especially for the children. Especially for the teens. The families of the recently laid-off, of those down-sized in the oilpatch, of recently arrived refugees, of the underemployed are hurting this Christmas. Kids are watching their parents fall apart because of financial stress. For those of us fortunate enough to have kept our homes and our living standards, much must be asked. With your help, three extraordinary charities work arm-in-arm to ensure every child in Edmonton aged zero to 17 will have a Christmas gift, and every family on a limited income will have a festive meal. ... Read the rest of entry »

HICKS WEEKLY DISH Latino's: Just about everything is very, very good BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: TUESDAY, DECEMBER 06, 2016

Latino's Restaurant 10708-98 St. 780-705-1895 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., seven days a week Food: 4 of 5 Suns Ambience: 3 of 5 Suns Service: 3.5 of 5 Suns Dinner for two (excluding beverages and tip): basic, $25; loaded, $55 Decisions, decisions, decisions. When it comes to taco/tortilla choices in Latino/Mexican/Tex-Mex cooking, where do you start? Tacos, tortillas, corn tortillas, flour or wheat tortillas, corn shell tortillas, crispy tortillas, taco shells, crispy tortillas, masa tortilla, steamed tamales – all originating in a single round portion of unleavened, mostly corn flour bread. Then there’s the popular names for tortillas and tacos with fillings — rolled (enchilada), folded (quesadilla), topped with grilled meat and onions (fajita), extra-thick (pupusa), closed-end wraps (burrito). Finally, there’s no end of tortilla/taco variations based on place, i.e. the geographic regions of Latin and South America,  individual country preferences, regional cooking with ... Read the rest of entry »

HICKS ON BIZ Some big ifs in pipeline expansion BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: THURSDAY, DECEMBER 01, 2016

Congratulations to Premier Rachel Notley for her part – acknowledged by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau – in securing federal approval for doubling the oil-carrying capacity of both the Trans Mountain pipeline to the west coast, and Enbridge’s Line 3 to the American midwest. IF – and that’s a huge if – the pipelines actually get built, another million barrels of oil a day can be shipped from Alberta. IF – and that’s a minuscule if incoming American President Donald Trump approves the Keystone XL pipeline from Alberta to the Gulf Coast refineries, another 800,000 barrels a day can be exported. The ability to export another 1.8 million barrels a day means the oil industry and the province can continue a slow, measured, environmentally friendly expansion of oil and gas production for several decades. The big IF is getting Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion built and operational, given the intense opposition on the B.C. Lower Mainland ... Read the rest of entry »

HICKS WEEKLY DISH ATLAS Steak + Fish a cut above BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 29, 2016

ATLAS Steak + Fish Grand Villa Casino, 10224 104 Ave. 780-413-3178 atlassteakandfish.com/edmonton/ 4:30 p.m. to late, seven days a week 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday to Friday Food: 4 of 5 Suns Ambience: 4 of 5 Suns Service: 4 of 5 Suns Dinner for two (excluding beverages and tip): basic, $60; loaded, $90   Precious few restaurants in this town make ordinary food extraordinary. Even fewer can make steaks, pork chops and chicken that will satisfy both Trucker Tom and Fiona the Foodie. Well done, ATLAS Steak + Fish – the casual but elegant restaurant in the new Grand Villa Casino that’s glued on to Rogers Place. Executive chef Shelley Robinson walks this tightrope between mass appeal and fine dining as if it were a super-highway – pumping out dish after dish of familiar proteins, starches and sweets, but every one with a “Wow, is that ever good!” factor. It’s too much fun to watch Robinson at her usual station at the open kitchen’s pi ... Read the rest of entry »