HicksBiz Blog

Kim's Convenience: Citadel Theatre season-opener is lightweight, charming and one-dimensional: Review by GRAHAM HICKS

Kim’s Convenience Citadel Theatre, Shoctor Stage through Oct. 11, 2014 Tickets $30 to $84, www.citadeltheatre.com (Touring show, produced by Toronto’s Soulpepper Theatre Company) Review by GRAHAM HICKS I’m not sure what Kim’s Convenience says about the current state of Canadian theatre. It’s a lightweight, superficially charming, one-dimensional, 90-minute piece of theatre that I most closely relate to lightweight, superficial, lame CBC-TV  sitcom comedies like Little Mosque on the Prairie, i.e. paying lip service to “Canadian” themes without any semblance of artistic, philosophical or emotional depth. Yet Kim’s Convenience has been a hit in Canadian theatrical terms, starting as a Toronto Fringe Festival star show in 2011, winning a pile of Toronto theatre awards, touring the country, and being optioned for a TV series. (If it’s not the CBC, I’ll eat my hat.)  Is there such a lack of contemporary Canadian play competition that this ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: ATB Financial reflects the new Alberta BY GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN FIRST POSTED: FRIDAY, AUGUST 29, 2014

It was about a year ago that ATB Financial deliberately upset its own advertising/image apple cart. Gone were the staid, run-of-the-mill banking ads. President & CEO Dave Mowat was being prominently featured, saying “C’mon down and try us.” The ads – everywhere from conventional media to YouTube to Facebook to sponsorships – were cheeky, and fun, and reflected a “new Alberta”. How about the posterior shot of four college-aged kids jumping into the water, with the caption “Who’s got the best assets? We do!” How about ATB being the presenting partner of the upcoming Tour of Alberta cycling race, or lead sponsor of the Edmonton Fringe? Or the pix of a young woman’s clenched fist, with “promise” tattooed above the knuckles? It’s been an extraordinarily bold advertising campaign, something no other bank in the country has done.  What’s most impressive is that it was all done in-house. No adver ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: Sage Restaurant features a taste of Europe BY GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN FIRST POSTED: TUESDAY, AUGUST 26, 2014

Sage Restaurant, River Cree Resort and Casino 300 East Lapotac Blvd, Enoch, AB 780-930-2636 www.rivercreeresort.com evenings, 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m., 11 p.m. on weekends closed Mondays Food: 4 of 5 Suns Ambience: 4 of 5 Suns Service: 4 of 5 Suns Dinner for two, just food – basic $60, loaded $100 Cooking can’t be all work, no fun — a creative chef would go bonkers. Fortunately, River Cree Resort General Manager Vik Mahajan happily releases the enormously creative Shane Chartrand from his day-to-day chores at the resort’s fine-dining Sage Restaurant for a monthly special, a themed evening of five or six set courses with wine pairings at a remarkable price-point of $49 per person. “A Taste of Europe” is a homage by Chartrand to respected European chefs — Jose Andres (Spain), Sven Elderfeld (Germany), Massimo Bottura (Italy), Marco Pierre White (England), Alain Ducasse (France) and Peter Goossens (Switzerland). It’s available as a s ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Human error is inevitable BY GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN FIRST POSTED: FRIDAY, AUGUST 22, 2014

We all want to have our cake and eat it too. We all want to believe minerals, oil and gases can be pulled out of the ground in the Canadian wilderness, processed and shipped safely, with minimal disruption to the environment. That anything grown – trees to grains to livestock – stays within the rules of sustainability, and that those rules move along as scientific knowledge unfolds. I’m reasonably confident that the shared communal interest has resulted in safety and environmental systems and practices in Canada that are among the best in the world. Human error is the wild card. And, most often, human error is the direct or indirect outcome of sloppy corporate or regulatory practices. And sloppy corporate/regulatory cultures, I would argue, are most often caused by excessive/over-zealous cost-cutting or performance expectations. You’ll never see “cost-cutting” listed as an official cause of a major industrial accident in any follow-up public report. ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: War of the classic burgers BY GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN FIRST POSTED: TUESDAY, AUGUST 19, 2014

None of that fancy stuff —the lamb burgers or rib eye burgers at sit-down diners. This was a hunt for the best mass-produced burger in town. The burger had to come from a well-established chain – McDonalds, A&W, Harvey’s, Dairy Queen, Wendy’s, Burger King. Fat Burger, in Canada since 2005, got in under the wire. The burgers had to be comparable — no specials of the month, either one big meat patty or two doubles, always with bacon and cheese: Tested out were a McDonald’s Quarter Pounder, DQ Grill Burger, Harvey’s Angus Burger, Burger King’s Double Whopper, A&W Poppa Burger, Wendy’s Bacon Deluxe Single and a Fat Burger Baby Burger. They weighed more or less the same, 250 to 300 grams, with the two-patty ones adding an extra 50 to 100 grams. Calorie-wise, most clocked in at 900 to 1100 calories. Even without fries or onion rings, that’s still half the daily recommended calories for a smaller adult. Didn’t matter the b ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Hey, Mayor Iveson, we need a state-of-the-art downtown bus terminal BY GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN FIRST POSTED: FRIDAY, AUGUST 15, 2014

Something is very wrong with this picture. A convenient, inter-city bus terminal is essential to any self-respecting city. Buses are the most easy-to-use and economical way of mid-distance travelling, other than shoehorning seven people into a mini-van. Inter-city bus stations function best in, or just off, downtown cores, as in Vancouver, Calgary, Ottawa, Toronto and Montreal. So why is Greyhound Canada (besides Red Arrow, the only major scheduled inter-city bus line in Alberta) talking about moving its downtown depot into the deep southeast, south of Wagner Road off 75 Street? The only transport connector is the southeast LRT station (Davies) that’s at least five years away, and it would be blocks away from the potential Greyhound site at that. Why? Because nobody – the city, Greyhound, private land developers - has grabbed this bull by the horns. Greyhound’s lease on the crummy but functional downtown Greyhound bus terminal at 103 Street and 103 Avenue will terminate ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: Sushi Sugoi good but not outstanding BY GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN FIRST POSTED: TUESDAY, AUGUST 12, 2014

Sushi Sugoi Japanese Restaurant 2874 Calgary Trail NW 587-524-4335 www.sushisugoi.com seven days a week, 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Food: 3.5 of 5 Suns Ambience: 3.5 of 5 Suns Service: 3.5 of 5 Suns Dinner for two, just food – basic $30, loaded $50 Is it damning with faint praise? An acquaintance asks about a restaurant. You say, “not bad” or “pleasant enough” or “pretty good” with a shrug of your shoulders. That is how our party left Sushi Sugoi Japanese Restaurant, on Calgary Trail between 34 Avenue and 23 Avenue. Sushi Sugoi actually took over the old Outback Steakhouse, made no changes to the exterior but transformed the interior into a reasonably classy sushi restaurant. We had lots of food — 14 dishes for seven of us— and variety. It was all pretty good, but was there an appearance, taste or texture that would stick in your memory for weeks? Not really. Actually that’s not quite true. Sushi Sugoi&rsquo ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Edmonton's hotel scene is booming BY GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN FIRST POSTED: FRIDAY, AUGUST 08, 2014

It seems as if a new hotel is popping up in or around Edmonton every other day. Holiday Inn, Hampton, Days Inn, Hyatt, Marriott, Ramada … They all look the same - six or seven floors, about 100 rooms, minimal services other than a place to sleep. They like each other’s company. They cluster, across Hwy 2 from the International Airport in Leduc/Nisku, at Ellerslie Road and Calgary Trail, at the Whitemud and Calgary Trail, in the West End, downtown and lately in Sherwood Park. The numbers tell the tale. In 2000 there were 10,000 hotel rooms and 110 hotels in Greater Edmonton. By the end of 2015, according to Canadian hotel tracker PKF Consulting, we’ll have 15,500 rooms in 145 hotels. The 2015 growth rate will be 5%, with an expected 2% to 3% in the years to follow. The national hotel room growth rate for 2015 is 1% to 1.5%. Greater Vancouver, by comparison, expects a 1% growth rate in 2015. What’s going on? Didn’t the pundits once predict the Internet&rsqu ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: Max's great for Filipino fare BY GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN FIRST POSTED: TUESDAY, AUGUST 05, 2014

Max’s Restaurant —Cuisine of the Philippines 11650 142 St. 780-453-8008 www.maxschicken.com seven days a week, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., weekends to 10 p.m. Food: 3.5 of 5 Suns Ambience: 3.5 of 5 Suns Service: 4 of 5 Suns  Dinner for two, just food – basic $25, loaded $40 It’s been a genie in a bottle. We have hundreds of Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai and Korean restaurants in Greater Edmonton. But in a city with over 40,000 Filipino-Canadians, Filipino food has never caught on. The ingredients have long been in place. Differentiated by an emphasis on garlic, onion and vinegars, Filipino food isn’t far removed from the popular cuisine of its Asian neighbours. As an American protectorate in the first half of the 20th century, fried chicken and bistek, or beef steak, are everyday foods. Surprisingly for a tropical country, hot (as in spicy) foods are rarely found. The genie exploded out of that bottle when Max’s Restaurant — Cuisine o ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: Fine dining at Fort Edmonton Park BY GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN FIRST POSTED: TUESDAY, JULY 15, 2014

Johnson’s Café, Hotel Selkirk, Fort Edmonton Park (Fox Drive and Whitemud Drive) 780-496-7227 www.fortedmontonpark.ca/hotel-selkirk/johnsons-cafe Seven days a week, breakfast, lunch and dinner Food: 4 of 5 Suns Ambience: 3.5 of 5 Suns Service: 2.5 of 5 Suns Dinner for two, just food – basic $50, loaded $80 Graham Hicks 780-707-6379 Ggraham.hicks@hicksbiz.com www.hicksbiz.com @hicksonsix It still remains a culinary secret, even though Johnson’s Café has been open for over 10 years in the Hotel Selkirk at Fort Edmonton Park. Why would this very good dining room, in the height of summer, only have a few tables occupied on a lovely Thursday evening? Location, location, location. It’s the café’s biggest strength and weakness. The historic Hotel Selkirk is in Fort Edmonton Park, accessible by a side road after the park closes. The site is so beautiful, it’s Jasper without the three-hour drive. But desti ... Read the rest of entry »
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