HicksBiz Blog

Hicks on Biz: NO to the Epcor solar farm proposal By GRAHAM HICKS, originally published Edmonton Sun, June 14, 2019

Epcor's proposed solar farm at the E. L. Smith water treatment centre, a rendering from the perspective of someone standing on Anthony Henday Drive.Epcor / Supplied By GRAHAM HICKS I like Epcor. I really do. I like the notion of a city-owned company successfully competing in the free market, this year delivering a monstrous $171 million shareholder dividend to the city. Epcor has been so good for the city. A far-sighted decision to become a global water/sewage treatment company has paid off handsomely. At home Epcor provides excellent water (and power transmission) facilities for the City of Edmonton. When Epcor opted for the water route, it bundled up its power-generation assets to create Capital Power. With 700 employees mostly in Edmonton, Capital Power has grown into another city-headquartered corporate powerhouse. So I am even more baffled and dismayed at Epcor’s desire to industrialize and clutter up Edmonton’s pristine river valley with  45,000 solar panels, t ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks`Weekly Dish: Filistix reflects a new Canadian cuisine By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, June 11, 2019

Filistix's Nasi Goreng fried rice is a meal unto itself. Filistix 10621 100 Ave. 780-716-4708 Filistix.ca Facebook 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. (11 p.m. Fri and Sat, 9 p.m. Sun), seven days a week Delivery pending, reservations by phone Food: 4 of 5 Suns Ambience: 3.5 of 5 Suns Service: 4 of 5 Suns Dinner for two: Excluding drinks and tip, basic $30, loaded $50 By GRAHAM HICKS Ariel del Rosario and Roel Canafrance had no grandiose business plan when they started selling Filipino-style barbecue skewers out of a food truck some 10 years ago. Yet Filistix has evolved as a textbook study in growing a hospitality business, culminating in the recent opening of its first sit-down, full-service Filipino/Asian fusion restaurant in the city’s downtown. Del Rosario and Canafrance are cousins — second-generation Filipino-Canadians raised on the excellent Filipino cooking forever emerging from their moms’ and lolas’ (grandmothers) kitchens. They were among the firs ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: High expectations for Canada's cannabis industry By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, June 8, 2019

One of the first cannabis crops at Freedom Cannabis is growing within strictly controlled circumstances. Graham Hicks / Postmedia Don’t get carried away. Despite much wishful thinking, Alberta’s brand-new legalized cannabis industry is NOT going to replace oil and gas. Alberta produces and exports 3.7 million barrels of oil and diluted bitumen PER DAY – at roughly $50 Cdn. per barrel, that’s $185 million PER DAY, or $1.3 billion PER WEEK. The federal government estimates total cannabis retail sales (legal) for all Canada this year will be around $726 million. Even if we double that number,  for spending on wholesale cannabis production, greenhouse construction, legal and accounting services, even if we add on the salaries of some 2,000 cannabis retail store employees and maybe 1,500 cannabis greenhouse workers … it’s the equivalent of – at most – two weeks of provincial oil and gas gross revenue. That said, the emerging cannabi ... Read the rest of entry »

HICKS' WEEKLY DISH: Replacing a top chef is no easy business By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, June 4, 2019

The colours in Chartier's onion risotto and kohlrabi "steak" were a treat for the eyes. Photos by GRAHAM HICKS / EDMONTON SUN Chartier #102, 5012 50 St. Beaumont 780-737-3633 www.dinechartier.com Reservations: Yelp.com No listed delivery service Tues to Sun. 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. (Fri. and Sat. midnight closing) (Bread window, Tues. to Sun. 9 a.m. until sold-out) Closed Mondays Food: 3.5 of 5 Suns Ambience: 4 of 5 Suns Service: 4 of 5 Suns Dinner for two: Excluding drinks and tip, basic $50, loaded $80 Three years ago, the Weekly Dish visited Chartier, the then-recently-opened Franco-Albertan restaurant in the town of Beaumont – today just a few minutes drive south of Mill Woods. That meal was perfect – one of the few five out of five Suns ever rewarded in this restaurant review column. But perfection is either maintained, or it slips. And even the best of chefs, if they are not owners, tend to eventually move on. On our return visit to Chartier, the fo ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Why cheap beef may be a thing of the past By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, May 31, 2019

A new trade deal with China is good news for Alberta cattle producers.Postmedia By GRAHAM HICKS Why is beef so expensive, and pork so cheap? A nice four-pound (two kilogram) pork tenderloin for the family’s Sunday get together clocks in at a reasonable $20. The equivalent prime rib beef roast – two kilograms – would cost about $80! You can’t even buy a prime rib roast anymore! At the west-end Superstore earlier this week, all the roasts were cheaper cuts of beef – outside round for $13 a kilogram, blade roasts for $15 a kilogram. “We don’t make prime rib roasts anymore,” the meat counter clerk said. “They’re so expensive. People just don’t buy them.” Do you not vaguely remember a time when a good roast of beef and a pork tenderloin cost about the same? When beef ribs, kilo for kilo, were close to pork chops in price? When a 16-ounce porterhouse or a t-bone steak in a good restaurant didn’t cost a jaw-dropping $40 to $50 ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: Spotlight truly shines By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, May 28, 2019

Spotlight's interior decor harkens back to the golden era of Hollywood. Photos by GRAHAM HICKS / EDMONTON SUN Spotlight Cabaret Second floor, 8217 – 104 St. (elevator accessible) 780-760-0202 spotlightcabaret.ca 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. seven days a week No listed delivery service Food: 3.5 of 5 Suns Ambience:  4.5 of 5 Suns Service: 4.5 of 5 Suns Dinner for two excluding tip, taxes or beverages: Basic, $30; loaded $65 By GRAHAM HICKS Keep your fingers crossed that the Spotlight Cabaret, in the heart of Old Strathcona, is a roaring success. It’s a bold venture in what was the O2’s second and third floor bar and restaurant, and before that Chili’s Old Strathcona. Spotlight is modeled on those classic Hollywood and New York City fancy bars you see in late-night movies, but in living technicolour – nightly cabaret entertainment and full menu service is offered in the beautifully renovated room, complete with a real stage. On an Edmonton summer afternoon or eveni ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Driverless in Beaumont By GRAHAM HICKS first published EDMONTON SUN, May 24, 2019

The City of Beaumont unveiled ELAElectric Autonomous, the first Electric Autonomous Shuttle experience open to the community and will be free to ride, during a press conference in Beaumont, May 16, 2019. This will be Canada's first-ever pilot of an autonomous shuttle in mixed traffic use. Ed Kaiser/Postmedia We’ve heard it so often, we’ve become numb. Soon! Soon! Autonomous vehicles (AVs) will take over! No more human-driven vehicles, no more individually owned vehicles. We will all ride-share in a dial-a-bus-like municipal AV fleet. Soon! Guess what? Soon has become now! Right now, a 12-person fully automated van – no driver, no driver’s compartment – is scurrying up and down the town of Beaumont’s main thoroughfare, sharing the road with regular traffic. There’s plenty of leading-edge AVs out there – every major automaker has skin in this game. AV fleets are beginning to buzz around industrial sites, airports, golf courses, wherever there& ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: Noi Thai's simple yet elegant cuisine By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, May 21, 2019

While the broth colour was not appealing, the seafood and green curry tang worked well. Noi Thai Restaurant 10724 95 St. NW 780-423-3213 Noithairestaurant.com Delivery service: Skip The Dishes Tues. to Fri. 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sat. and Sun, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Closed Monday Food: 4 of 5 Suns Ambience:  4 of 5 Suns Service: 4 of 5 Suns Dinner for two excluding tip, taxes or beverages: Basic, $30; loaded $60 By GRAHAM HICKS There is something alluring about Thai food and Thai restaurants. At its best, Thai cooking is delicate and clean, never oil-heavy, lovely colours, the aroma inevitably described as “fragrant.” The restaurant interiors are spotless and pretty. Servers are exquisitely polite. Lesser Thai kitchens haven’t the same intangible delicacy, somehow don’t come across as so “clean” in the food presentation. The spring rolls can be greasy. My attention was directed to the humble Noi Thai when WHERE Magazine, in an unusual de ... Read the rest of entry »

Get Ready to Rock! The Mayfield Dinner Theatre heads into a season of musicals - By GRAHAM HICKS, HicksBiz.com

I don’t think I’d want to be in Van Wilmott’s shoes. Not that it isn’t fun, being the artistic director of Edmonton’s Mayfield Dinner Theatre. But there’s pressure. He’s gotta make money! In commercial theatre, there ain’t no government grants/Canada Council/Alberta Foundation for the Arts. If Wilmott’s shows didn't make money or at least break even, his corporate masters – the owners of the Doubletree by Hilton Hotel West Edmonton - would close the theatre which is in the hotel. If his shows don’t bring in the crowds, there’s nobody to buy the theatre’s buffet dinner or bottles of wine, no out-of-towners to stay at the hotel after the show. And each show, with an eight-to-nine week run, has about 25,000 dinner theatre tickets up for sale. With five shows in the season, that's 125,000 tickets to sell! And when you have to sell that many tickets, you simply cannot take risks.  “Each show HAS to be successful,&rdqu ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Edmonton's eyelash queen By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, May 17, 2019

SugarlashPRO founder Courtney Buhler poses in Sugarlash's soon-to-open headquarters on Whyte Avenue. GRAHAM HICKS/EDMONTON SUNEdmonton By GRAHAM HICKS Name the Edmonton cosmetics company, that, in 10 years, has gone from a home-based business to a global eyelash company, with 35 staff and expected 2019 revenues of  $18 to $20 million? Stumped? Of course! But all will soon change. Courtney Buhler’s SugarlashPRO will be a local household name once the company unveils its storefront world headquarters, now under construction at Whyte Avenue and 108 Street, in the former BMO bank building. Courtney’s is a remarkable story of determination and perseverance, of sensing an opportunity, overcoming obstacles, taking on major financial risk … and winning. She started as a broke, 20-year-old single mom. Today she is only 30, with two more kids and a most supportive husband. Dustin Buhler formerly handled SugarlashPRO's logistics. Courtney and SugarlashPRO are proof positive that E ... Read the rest of entry »