HicksBiz Blog

Hicks' Weekly Dish: Bar Bricco like a gourmet picnic BY GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN POSTED: TUESDAY, MAY 20, 2014

Bar Bricco 10347 Jasper Avenue www.barbricco.com Food: 4 of 5 Suns Ambience: 3.5 of 5 Suns Service: 3.5 of 5 Suns Tuesday to Saturday evenings No reservations Dinner for two, just food — basic $50, loaded $80 The Red Ox Inn spawned Canteen. Hardware Grill spawned Tavern 1903. Now, right next door on Jasper Avenue, Corso 32 has spawned Bar Bricco. It’s Phase II of executive chef/owner Daniel Costa’s plan of three restaurants side by side, three styles of regional Italian cuisine — the gourmet Corso 32, the “snacks” of Bar Bricco, and, soon, an 80-seat urban trattoria/pasta house in what was the Transcend coffee cafe. Bar Bricco’s “snacks” are all about the small-plates craze sweeping the city, but these are “snacks” in name only. The menu is divided into spuntini (snacks), salumi (cold cuts), formaggi (cheese) and condiment (mini-desserts). Not just any snacks, but delicious truffles, high-end Italian chees ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Simplify the tax system! BY GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN POSTED FRIDAY, MAY 16, 2014

I am just off the phone with my patient accountant Jane, i.e. my “paid tax preparer”. (Being self-employed since retiring as a full-time Sun columnist in 2010, the deadline for my tax return is later than you employees.) My head hurts. Family medical premiums, liability insurance payments, investment reports, GST calculations, CPP owing, eligible charity receipts, RRSP contributions, RESP withdrawals … For my unincorporated business, I track all revenues and expenditures. That takes four hours a month. Then Jane goes through it for tax purposes. No, you can’t claim golf course fees, even if you were golfing with your biggest customer. How much of this trip was for work, how much for pleasure? Yes, a new computer is a business expense. Annual vehicle mileage and all expenses, please. Was this restaurant bill for your Weekly Dish column, or entertaining a client? It takes me at least 10 hours, on top of monthly book-keeping, to prepare for Jane’s audit. And ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: Bold sublimity at North 53 BY GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN POSTED: TUESDAY, MAY 13, 2014

North 53 10240 124 St. 587-524-5353 north53.ca Food: 5 of 5 Suns Service: 3.5 of 5 Suns Ambience: 3.5 of 5 Suns 5 p.m. to late, Wednesday through Sunday No minors Dinner for two, just food – Basic $50, loaded $170 It’s tempting to toss out the hyperbole here, to bequeath North 53 chef Ben Staley with lofty adjectives like “brilliant” or “stupendous” or “child genius.” But while North 53 has captured the imagination of Edmonton’s culinary world in the same manner as Blair Lebsack’s RGE RD last year and Daniel Costa’s Corso 32 in 2010, it’s too soon to add too many exclamation marks. Nevertheless, this is a great story in the making. Young chef (barely into his 20s), with no formal training, auditions for a 24-year-old entrepreneur with no food background but with the will and money to open a high-end bistro on 124 Street. After the eight-course audition, entrepreneur Kevin Cam completely changes di ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Welcome back, Co-op! BY GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN POSTED FRIDAY, MAY 09, 2014

Call me old-fashioned, I don’t care. I am so pleased to see the return of a major retail company to Edmonton, where the profits, for once, will stay in the city. The owned-by-its-customers Co-op is back in the city, having purchased two mid-sized grocery stores. The sale was triggered by the government’s Competition Bureau after Sobeys swallowed its much bigger rival Canada Safeway’s 213 stores for $5.8 billion. Co-op also purchased former Sobeys/Safeway grocery stores in Fort Saskatchewan, Leduc and Wetaskiwin. You shop at a Co-op, you buy a $5 membership. At the end of the year, you receive a cash rebate totalling 3% of your total grocery purchases, 6 cents a litre on Co-op gas. That’s where the profits go, not to out-of-town shareholders who spend nothing in Edmonton. Co-ops with a small ‘c’ are still a big part of the prairie landscape - Servus is a co-op, as is Mountain Equipment Co-op. Co-ops are owned by their members, not by shareholders. It’s f ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: Mayfield Dinner Theatre buffet revamped, BY GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN POSTED: TUESDAY, MAY 06, 2014

Mayfield Dinner Theatre buffet Double Tree by Hilton West Edmonton 16615 109 Ave. 780.483.4051 www.mayfieldtheatre.ca/tickets/ Graham Hicks 780 707 6379 Graham.hicks@hicksbiz.com www.hicksbiz.com @hicksonsix Food: 3.5 of 5 Suns Ambience: 3.5 of 5 Suns Service: 3.5 of 5 Suns Dinner and show per person, $70 to $100 Doors at 6 p.m. show at 8 p.m., Wednesday and Sunday brunch It’s tricky to review the buffet at the Mayfield Dinner Theatre in the Doubletree by Hilton West Edmonton (formerly the Mayfield Inn), given the $70 to $100 price currently includes a spectacular production of Hairspray — The Broadway Musical. But there’s no question: With the top-to-bottom renovation of the former Mayfield Inn, the new kitchen management has revamped, revitalized and seriously upgraded the long-standing dinner theatre buffet. A little context is in order, especially given all the moving parts. The hotel side of the west-end Mayfield Inn shut its doors i ... Read the rest of entry »

Make Mine Love - Citadel comedy premiere still rough around the edges - review by GRAHAM HICKS

Make Mine Love World Premiere by Tom Wood, directed by Bob Baker, starring Rebecca Northan, John Ullyatt and Julian Arnold Citadel Theatre, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada Tickets May 10 to June 1, 2014 Review by GRAHAM HICKS There are delightful, hilarious, slap-stick scenes in Make Mine Love, in which interactive live-film technology plays a leading role. But those gems are surrounded by long, laborious set-up stuff that just doesn’t quite work in the Citadel’s world premiere of its commissioned Make Mine Love, an original script written by Edmonton actor, director and playwright Tom Wood, directed by Citadel artistic director Bob Baker. Make Mine Love is a huge undertaking, especially with an untested script, 10 actors playing 26 roles, sets with hundreds of moving parts shifting with breathtaking ease across America from Hollywood, to New York City and a train in between, all in 1938 when women were dames, everybody smoked, and wisecracks were the accepted lingo of the day. ... Read the rest of entry »

Hairspray at the Mayfield Dinner Theatre: As close to Broadway as we’ll get – review by GRAHAM HICKS

Hairspray at the Mayfield Dinner Theatre: As close to Broadway as we’ll get – review by GRAHAM HICKS Hairspray – The Broadway Musical Mayfield Dinner Theatre, Doubletree by Hilton West Edmonton 16615 109 Ave., Edmonton 780.483.4051 www.mayfieldtheatre.ca/tickets/ April 18 to June 15, 2014 A theatre review by Graham Hicks Hairspray is as good a musical theatre show as has ever trod the boards of the Mayfield Dinner Theatre – and that’s saying a lot, because the theatre has been open since 1975. It’s a given that Hairspray is an excellent musical to begin with – given the quirky 1988 movie turned into 2002’s Broadway hit musical, which in turn became the smash movie musical of 2007. The songs are the best, the plot actually has some sociological meat of 1960s race relations and an iconic nod to the notion that skinny white socialite girls don’t always win against the outsiders, the Broadway/musical choreography is top-notch. But the wonder, the mag ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: One Pearl of an Edmonton high-rise BY GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN FIRST POSTED: FRIDAY, MAY 02, 2014 11:54 AM MDT

For those who think Edmonton lacks entrepreneurial drive, the man building the jewel of condo towers, the 36-floor Pearl overlooking the river valley from Jasper and 119 Street, arrived from India as a penniless immigrant 34 years ago. “When my mom and dad first came, they had no connections, no wealth,” says Raj Dhunna of his father Rakesh Dhunna, respectively chief operating officer and president of Regency Developments. “They worked day and night, had us kids. My father decided to build our own house in 1987. Then he built a house in Twin Brooks, sold it, built 15 to 20 more.” One thing led to another, from a rental property portfolio, to a strip mall on 34 Avenue, to a Beaumont 60-unit townhouse project. During the boom of 2006-2008, Regency was gearing up for bigger projects, making strategic land acquisitions Along the way, Rakesh built up Regency’s network of tradespeople, lenders and sub-contractors. It was that network, plus a strong sense of community, that ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: Back to the land with Eat Alberta BY GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN FIRST POSTED: TUESDAY, APRIL 29, 2014 02:02 PM MDT

It’s challenging to describe exactly what the one-day, once-a-year Eat Alberta gathering actually does, but I do know it’s good for the soul. A group of dedicated volunteer foodies spend the entire year preparing for a one-day event, this year entitled Seed the Possibilities! A who’s who of the region’s artisan culinary world – Nevin Fenske of the Drift food truck, Alley Kat Brewing’s Neil Herbst, Michael Kalmanovich of Earth’s General Store, Blair Lebsack of RGE RD, shovelandfork.com’s Chad Moss – are enlisted to show up on a Saturday in April and run workshops on their specialties. When the organizing committee releases its 14-workshop schedule, held last Saturday at the NAIT culinary school, there’s a virtual stampede to register. Within days, at $150 each, the event sells out. It’s a hoary cliché, but probably accurate. Eat Alberta is about an old-fashioned agrarian yearning in so many of us to get back to the land, to ma ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Bidding on Commonwealth Games a dumb idea, BY GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN FIRST POSTED: FRIDAY, APRIL 25, 2014 02:46 PM MDT

Are we really prepared to spend ONE BILLION DOLLARS to host a 2022 Commonwealth Games wanted by no other city besides Durban, South Africa? This is one great big dumb idea. I don’t think a Commonwealth Games would create any meaningful return on investment, or “ROI” to the long-suffering taxpayer, no matter how positive the spin. The usual ROI rational for the hosting of large events is as follows: •Tourism: We already know from the 1978 Commonwealth Games and the 2001 World Track & Field Championships that — outside of athletes, their entourages and officials — tourists do not show up to watch track and field. All that money was justified in the name of tourism, but the results were horrendously disappointing. That’s a fact. •Economic Diversification: After every major event, consultants produce reports to justify the spending of public dollars by measuring “direct”, “indirect” and “induced” economic impact. ... Read the rest of entry »
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