HicksBiz Blog

Hicks Weekly Dish: La Ronde retro throwback BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 19, 2017

La Ronde Restaurant - Retro Thursday menu,  Chateau Lacombe Hotel, 24th floor, 10111 Bellamy Hill 780-428-6611 Chateaulacombe.com Tuesday to Saturday, 5:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday, 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Closed Mondays (Retro-Thursday menu available Thursdays only.) Three-course Retro-Thursday dinner for two, excluding tip and beverages: $132 Food:  4 of 5 Suns Ambience: 4.5 of 5 Suns Service: 4.5 of 5 Suns   It’s a fun idea and timely too. For the last few months, Edmonton’s No.1 viewpoint restaurant La Ronde at the top of the Chateau Lacombe Hotel has featured a Retro Thursday three-course menu. On Wednesday, September 27, 2017, the Chateau Lacombe will celebrate its 50th anniversary. When the hotel’s doors opened in 1967, it was considered the best thing in Edmonton since sliced bread. If you’d been a bright-eyed, bushy-tailed teenager taken by your family to dine at the swanky revolving La Ronde that first year, you m ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Family looms large in Stagewest's 75-year legacy BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 15, 2017

Family-owned-and-operated companies can be happy, healthy places moving nimbly around the feet of staid, mega-sized publicly-traded corporations. For 75 years and three generations, the Pechet family’s Stagewest Hospitality has played and prospered in Alberta. From hotels to restaurants, dinner theatres, casinos, land development, First Nation partnerships, travel agents and now a British Columbia winery, Stagewest has happily danced from hospitality opportunity to opportunity, buying at the bottom, selling at the top. No Pechets, however, currently live in Edmonton. Stagewest Hospitality’s third-generation CEO and President Jason Pechet is based in Calgary. Second-generation Howard Pechet, now semi-retired, has lived in San Diego but done business in Alberta since 1989. He moved his family to that city after Stagewest Hospitality’s flagship Mayfield Inn was sold to Alberta lumber baron Al Owen. Stagewest owns the Violino Gastronomia Italiana restaurant here, plus Mayfield Travel ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks Weekly Dish: Sorrentino's Mushroom Harvest Festival BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 12, 2017

Downtown – 10162-100 St. – 780 424 7500 South – 4208 Calgary Trail – 780 434 7607 West – 6867 170 St. – 780 444 0524 Little Italy – 10844 95 St. – 780 425 0960 Stony Plain – 108 Genesis Drive – 780-591-2121 Bistecca Italian Steakhouse – 2345 111 St. – 780 439 7335   Food: 4 of 5 stars Ambience: 4 of 5 stars Service: 3.5 of 5 stars   Festival dinner for two without tip or beverages, $60 basic, $90 loaded. September may mean back-to-school, frosty nights, shorter days and the (sigh) end of summer. But for so many Edmonton families, there’s still joy is Mudville thanks to the traditional, September-long Sorrentino’s Mushroom Harvest festival. A tradition? Of course! The special one-month-only mushroom menu at all six Sorrentino’s area restaurants plus Bistecca, has been around for 23 years. Many a dining group – be they relatives, friends or associates – never ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: A Little of This, a Little of That BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 08, 2017

A few small business/money related stories, each capable of being much bigger... OILSANDS RE-TOOLING Operating and capital costs in the oilsands have been reduced by a most impressive 30% since the Great Oil Price Crash of 2014, thanks to full-press utilization of cleaner, greener, safer, faster, cheaper technologies, plus more productivity per worker and wages coming back down to earth. How ironic that low oil prices have spurred these innovations, as beneficial to the environment as they are to the economy. Innovation was slow as molasses during the oilsands’ pre-2014 glory years – why look for efficiencies when there was so money to be made? The current slow recovery of the Alberta economy is likely more about the retooling within the non-renewable energy sector (and the re-building of Fort McMurray after last year’s fire) than any other business. But more bad news for oilsands labour is coming. As is happening in mining operations the world over, within two to three years, ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks Weekly Dish: Patisseries just popping up BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 05, 2017

It’s a truly remarkable, and most welcome, phenomenon. In the past 18 months, at least 10 new patisseries have sprung up in the city. The French, who lead the world in creating these delightful baker’s confectionaries, have two different words for bake shops. A patisserie is about pastries and cakes. A boulangerie is about bread. Edmonton has always had independent bread-based bakeries – Italian, Handy, Popular, Bon Ton, Artistic, Boulangerie Bonjour, Italian Centre, Hazeldean, Portuguese Canadian, Cobs and more. But this patisserie thing — small boutique bakeries with sit-down tables, making hand-crafted and individually-sized pastries and cakes — is something new. What’s surprising is the overall quality. In my patisserie rounds, every single shop was impressive. Not one failed in freshness, quality, price or ambience. This is due to several possible reasons. The reigning queen of Edmonton’s patisseries has set high the bar: Duchess Bake Shop, o ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Northlands empire has fallen BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 01, 2017

It is the way of the world. Seasons come and seasons go. Empires rise and fall. Northlands had a good run — 138 years. But now its empire, sitting on city-owned land, has all blown up. The aging Coliseum sits empty other than the occasional C-circuit concert and the Canadian Finals Rodeo this fall and in 2018. Horse racing will be gone by this time next year. The Edmonton Expo Centre, a questionable expenditure 33 years ago, was originally financed with a $75 million city-guaranteed loan. Northlands still owes $47 million and is unable to pay the mortgage, so the Expo Centre is being taken over by the city. A visioning experiment caused much interest last year — but none of the alternative roles envisioned for Northlands has panned out, especially with tight government purse strings in this oil-depressed economy. Today, Northlands is de facto bankrupt. The city is turning the Expo Centre over to the Edmonton Economic Development Corporation, which has long run the Shaw Conf ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks Weekly Dish: The Situation needs a service upgrade BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: TUESDAY, AUGUST 29, 2017

Situation Brewing Co. 10308 81 Avenue situationbeer.com 780-705-1377 Dinner for two, excluding tip and beverage: basic, $30; loaded $60.   At what point does “not snobby” morph into sloppiness and indifference? At what point does a deliberately casual attitude – as befits Situation Brewing Company’s brew-pub location in the heart of the Old Strathcona – become too casual? I can’t say I was enamoured with the view of my server’s hairy armpits. He was wearing a tank-top, a backward ball-cap and shorts. Situation Brewing has been open for about a year. It was the first of the new generation of gastro-brew pubs to open in town. (Brewsters has long brewed good beers on site at its three Edmonton locations, but is roundly ignored by the trend-setters.)   Situation was followed by Biera restaurant, which opened last spring with on-site brewed Blind Enthusiasm beer. Biera was glowingly reviewed in this column last week. Polar Park Br ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Oil on decline but pot is hot BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: THURSDAY, AUGUST 24, 2017 UPDATED: FRIDAY, AUGUST 25, 2017

An industry is being born around Edmonton that will, ever so slightly, offset the decline of Alberta’s oil, natural gas and coal sectors. Marijuana! The fast-approaching legalization of recreational pot, plus the now-legal production of medical marijuana, will create a Canada-wide industry every bit as big as booze is today. Greater Edmonton, thanks mostly to the Aurora Cannabis Company’s massive indoor marijuana farm being built out by the Edmonton International Airport, is about to become a major centre of the new, legal, Canadian cannabis industry. It’s not just about getting high. Medical marijuana has a big market, both domestic and international. Hemp – essentially marijuana without the buzz – is coming into its own with dozens of non-recreational uses. Edmonton has a thriving hemp industry. Here are some of the immediate economic benefits flowing into our city and region. Now publicly traded on the TSX, with shares collectively worth a billion bucks, A ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks Weekly Dish: Biera, a most satisfying meal BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: TUESDAY, AUGUST 22, 2017

Biera Ritchie Market, 9570-76 Ave. 587-525-8589 biera.ca Wednesday to Saturday, 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. Closed Sunday to Tuesday Dinner for two, excluding tip and beverages: basic, $40; loaded, $80 Food: 4 of 5 Suns Ambience: 4 of 5 Suns Service: 4 of 5 Suns    A pile of chefs talk the talk. Beer is as sophisticated as wine, they say. Beer can be as carefully paired with food as wine, they say. Beer this, beer that … Few, however, walk the walk. Very few chefs actually create foods that discernibly, in the mouth, are truly enhanced by the addition of beer and its bubbles. Even fewer chefs make dishes that go well with one style of beer, and not so well with another. In fact, I was convinced (other than a cold lager with a hot curry) that the whole fine beer/fine food thing was just another millennial trend, featuring nothing but fashionable pretense. Then I went to Biera – the recently-opened gastro-pub/bistro/neighbourhood eatery in the new ul ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks Weekly Dish: Biera, a most satisfying meal BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: TUESDAY, AUGUST 22, 2017

Biera Ritchie Market, 9570-76 Ave. 587-525-8589 biera.ca Wednesday to Saturday, 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. Closed Sunday to Tuesday Dinner for two, excluding tip and beverages: basic, $40; loaded, $80 Food: 4 of 5 Suns Ambience: 4 of 5 Suns Service: 4 of 5 Suns    A pile of chefs talk the talk. Beer is as sophisticated as wine, they say. Beer can be as carefully paired with food as wine, they say. Beer this, beer that … Few, however, walk the walk. Very few chefs actually create foods that discernibly, in the mouth, are truly enhanced by the addition of beer and its bubbles. Even fewer chefs make dishes that go well with one style of beer, and not so well with another. In fact, I was convinced (other than a cold lager with a hot curry) that the whole fine beer/fine food thing was just another millennial trend, featuring nothing but fashionable pretense. Then I went to Biera – the recently-opened gastro-pub/bistro/neighbourhood eatery in the new ul ... Read the rest of entry »