HicksBiz Blog

Hicks' Weekly Dish: Downtown Dining Week offers a taste of Edmonton's core By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN March 13, 2018

Despite downtown parking regulations more complex than a Rubik’s Cube, I still recommend lunch or dinner this week at just about all (decent) downtown restaurants through Sunday, March 18. It’s the 15th annual Downtown Dining Week, produced by the Downtown Business Association. Cheap eats! Champagne at beer prices! At the very least, you’ll save 10% to 20% over regular a-la-carte prices, often more. After 15 years, most of the bugs have been worked out on this special offer. It’s designed to entice you back to the downtown to experience Edmonton’s terrific restaurant renaissance, a renaissance that is being recognized across Canada. Too bad downtown parking is so expensive and so sparse – see below. Each of the 37 participating restaurants can mix and match from three categories — $18 mostly two-course lunches, $30 for mostly-three course dinners, or $45 “executive dinners” on offer at the top-end eateries such as The Harvest Room, Hardware ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Alberta doesn't need wind farms by GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN March 9, 2018

By GRAHAM HICKS I have been to a wind farm, watched the blades on 80-metre-tall wind turbines turn lazily in the late-February sun. In a very gentle 5.4 km/h wind, 16 megawatts (MW) of electricity were being generated — wind converted to electricity at each tower, fed through underground cables to a substation, then fed into the provincial power grid. In that lazy wind at Capital Power’s Halkirk Wind Farm about 30 kilometres east of Stettler, 83 towers each generated 230 kilowatts (kW) of power ‑ enough to perhaps power my neighbourhood at that very moment. Halkirk is impressive — the 83 wind turbines scattered across 60 square kilometres of working farmland are so quiet (at least in low winds), so grey, so clean against the blue sky — dotting the landscape around the village of Halkirk like ghostly sentinels. The technology and know-how are all imported. The global wind-farm company Vestas Wind Systems, headquartered in Denmark, manufactures, assembles, maintains and ... Read the rest of entry »

Undercover at the Citadel Theatre, a comedic whodunit with more twists than a lemon in a martini: Review by GRAHAM HICKS

Undercover A Spontaneous Theatre production presented by the Citadel Theatre The Citadel Theatre Club space, April 4 to 29, 2018 Tickets Review by GRAHAM HICKS,  HicksBiz.com In a theatrical age dominated by ultra-serious political correctness, what a relief that Rebecca Northan knows how to have fun in a thoroughly professional way. Her touring show Undercover, on the Citadel’s cabaret stage through April 29, 2018, is a good old-fashioned murder mystery, a whodunit, complete with an old mansion, a dark and stormy night and black-outs in which the bereaved very suddenly, with much shrieking, becomes the bereaved. But it’s a whodunit with a fantastically fun twist. Every night, the show's assistant detective is an audience member, drawn at random to play the part. The script is cleverly written to let the latest and ever-changing member of the cast control the plot. As Northan says in thanking the audience/cast member at the end of the show, the second half of the show has never ev ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: Montana’s BBQ & Bar offers tasty food in comfy confines by GRAHAM HICKS, first published Edmonton Sun, March 6, 2018

Montana’s BBQ & Bar 10330 G.A. MacDonald Ave. (Calgary Trail south of Whitemud Drive) Six other Montana’s locations in Greater Edmonton 780-434-2886 Sunday to Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Dinner for two, not including tip, tax or beverage:  Basic, $30; loaded, $50 Food – 4 of 5 Suns Ambience – 4 of 5 Suns Service – 3.5 of 5 Suns Edmonton hard-core foodies, this Weekly Dish review is not for you. Montana’s BBQ & Bar has close to 100 locations across Canada, seven in Greater Edmonton alone. Executive chefs do not create specialty dishes on location – line cooks make the same ribs and wings and fries in every single Montana’s. Montana’s market is about moms ‘n’ dads ‘n’ kids going out without dressing up, about ball caps and pick-up trucks and team gatherings after the game. Montana’s competition isn’t the fancy-schmancy downtown restaurants.  It&r ... Read the rest of entry »

Children of God proves to be excellent musical theatre - Citadel Theatre review by GRAHAM HICKS

Children of God Citadel Theatre, Shoctor Stage Edmonton, Alberta, Canada March 3 to 24, 2018 Tickets  Review by GRAHAM HICKS, Hicksbiz.com There’s all kinds of good news about the Citadel Theatre’s latest offering, Children of God. It’s a very good piece of theatre. Causes do not overwhelm characters. The plot carries itself admirably, never devolving into polemics. The acting, singing and music is of the highest standard. It does what “issues” theatre is supposed to do – presents its cause without losing its audience through too-much pounding upon our heads. All of which is an immense relief. The issue of Canada’s residential schools, where indigenous children were collected and sent for both education and assimilation from 1831 to 1996, has rightly been front and centre in Canada since the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 2015. Corey Payette’s musical play – centred on six indigenous children who’d kno ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Alberta is no longer viable By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, March 2, 2018

As the federal and provincial governments make it more difficult for the resource industry to get things done, there's less incentive for those companies to develop infrastructure in this province.Ian Kucerak / Ian Kucerak/Postmedia I’m doing my best not to be ultra-cynical. But put yourself in the position of a major petrochemical/energy company CEO, reading the recently released report of the Alberta government-appointed Energy Diversification Advisory Committee. It is entitled, Diversification, Not Decline: Adapting to the new energy reality. “Really?” the CEO is saying to him or herself as he/she flips the pages. “Really?  The Alberta and Canadian governments have been pummelling my industry since 2015 when the Liberals came to power in Ottawa and the New Democrats in Alberta. “We (the energy sector) were flattened by the 50% drop in oil prices at the end of 2014.  And, ever since,  your governments have been kicking us while we& ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: Wishbone is good, not quite a wish come true By GRAHAM HICKS, first published Edmonton Sun, February 27, 2018

The fried chicken sandwich is a Wishbone lunch highlight. By GRAHAM HICKS Wishbone 10542 Jasper Avenue 780-757-6758 Eatwishbone.ca Monday to Friday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. (1 a.m. Fridays) Saturday, 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. Closed Sunday (Reservations at eatwishbone.ca) Dinner for two, not including tip, tax or beverage:  Basic, $25; loaded, $70 Food – 3.5 of 5 Suns Ambience – 4 of 5 Suns Service – 4 of 5 Suns Not that there was any fatal flaw, but two visits to the downtown Wishbone Restaurant and Oyster Bar left me disappointed. Open since July of last year, Wishbone is the downtown incarnation of the South-Side’s Three Boars on 109 St. south of the High Level Bridge, with the same ownership and same partner/executive chef Brayden Kozak. Three Boars was one of the first chef-owned bistros in town. When opened in 2013 it was a wildly inventive place. Chef Kozak would take whatever came through the kitchen door from his suppliers and ch ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Desperation has not yet set in for Alberta's finances - by GRAHAM HICKS, first published Edmonton Sun, February 23, 2018

This gorilla is not hiding in the closet. It’s rampaging through the whole house, in the kitchen, the living room, in every bathroom. Since 2008, for 10 years (with one exception), the Alberta government has spent more money than it has taken in. The situation has gone from bad to worse. From $1 billion in the red in 2008, to $6 to $8 billion per year earlier in this decade, to $10 billion-plus in the last two years. The accumulated deficit – the total outstanding provincial debt – is expected to hit $45 billion this year. That’s close to what the Alberta government will spend in the entire upcoming 2018-19 fiscal year! Quebec and Ontario have drowned in debt for decades, but, hey, we’re catching up. On a debt-per-capita, Alberta will be at Quebec’s level by 2023, Ontario’s by 2024. We used to have oil and gas “non-renewable resource” royalties flowing in – $10 billion a year. Then came the Great Oil Price Crash of 2014. The governmen ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: Why not try Why Not Cafe & Bar? by GRAHAM HICKS, first published Edmonton Sun: February 20, 2018

By GRAHAM HICKS Why Not Café & Bar 8534-109 St. 780-297-5757 Whynoteat.ca Tuesday to Friday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. (12 a.m. Fridays) Saturday, 4 p.m. to 12 a.m. Closed Sunday and Monday Dinner for two, not including tip, tax or beverage:  Basic, $40; loaded, $80 Food – 4 of 5 Suns Ambience – 3.5 of 5 Suns Service- 4 of 5 Suns The food at the Why Not Café is excellent and quite original, the ambience a bit of a hoot, the service excellent. But the portions are like that “yellow polka-dot bikini” song … itsy bitsy and teeny weeny. Owners/chefs Levi Biddlecombe and Tyson Wright (formerly of the Attila the HUNgry food truck, and, for a short stint, co-head chefs at Packrat Louie)  are proud of being renegade culinary artists. They shun the slick and fashionable: Why Not feels more like a prohibition-era  speakeasy than anything else – as if painted in dark colours on a Saturday afternoon by friends, decorated ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Edmonton's Cowan Graphics weathers the economic storm - by GRAHAM HICKS, first published Edmonton Sun, February 16, 2018

By Graham Hicks Growing to becoming a major player in your industry … isn’t for the faint of heart. As this series of Hicks on Biz columns have shown, inherent disadvantages in growing non-oil/gas Edmonton manufacturing companies to regional, national or international proportions are usually off-set by advantages. But there’s one factor nobody can control. It’s called recession.   Ever since Blaine MacMillan took over Cowan Graphics, started by his uncle in 1945, he planned on growing the graphics company, which manufactures all kinds of large-scale advertising images. The huge Lexus ad covering the Edmonton International Airport administration building is made by Cowan.   The giant Wayne Gretzky photo at Rogers Place – made by Cowan.  Canada Post’s branding images on mail boxes across the country – produced and installed by Cowan. By 2008, MacMillan had 100% ownership of Cowan, having bought out remaining family shareholders. “By ... Read the rest of entry »