HicksBiz Blog

Hicks Weekly Dish: Two approaches to this business of hospitality Two approaches to this business of hospitality BY GRAHAM HICKS, POSTMEDIA NETWORK FIRST POSTED: TUESDAY, MARCH 22, 2016

This is a tale of how two different businesses, The Parkallen Restaurant group and the Burger Baron chain, react – or don’t react — to business conditions or unexpected circumstances. On 109 Street, 10 blocks south of Old Strathcona, two generations of the Rustom family have spent decades building the original Parkallen into an excellent eatery with two parallel menus – one featuring up-scale, excellent Mediterranean cuisine, the other offering a wide range of pizzas. Through circumstance rather than design, Joseph Rustom became the owner/operator of the recently opened West Parkallen Kitchen + Bar – a larger, less intimate space than the on-going South Side restaurant in a very different location – on 170th Street just north of 108 Ave. A different location means different clientele, tastes and preferences. Rustom quickly realized the 170th Street location attracted customers seeking value and familiarity. The original Parkallen menu was simplified. A deli counter ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Private/public partnerships work better BY GRAHAM HICKS, POSTMEDIA NETWORK FIRST POSTED: FRIDAY, MARCH 18, 2016

One by one, Edmonton's utopian dreams are crashing on the shoals of financial reality. Blatchford was to transform the big, bad, City Centre Airport lands into the coolest, most environmentally friendly neighbourhood development ever. Now Blatchford, developed by the City of Edmonton with no partners, is hitting the brakes for the simplest of reasons. It's costing too much. All the cool stuff, the suck-it-away garbage removal, the artificial lake, has being removed from the plan. Edmonton City Council has been hit by sticker shock. The cost for Blatchford's district heating project have come in at around $200 million in upfront, non-recoverable capital costs. For $200 million, the city could buy 40,000 low-emission, natural-gas burning home furnaces! Blatchford was all the rage, so hip, so trendy, until the cost to the city moved up to the hundreds of millions, with little hope of recovery. The technologies involved are still new and expensive. To deploy them at this point is asking for trouble. ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks Weekly Dish: Downtown Dining Week BY GRAHAM HICKS, POSTMEDIA NETWORK FIRST POSTED: TUESDAY, MARCH 15, 2016

Everybody loves a deal. That’s why Groupon exists. That’s why restaurants have Two-For-One Mondays, Pasta Tuesdays, Half-Price Wine Wednesdays. Until Sunday, March 20, thanks to Downtown Dining Week, almost every downtown restaurant of any repute is offering giant discounts — $15 per person for a two-course lunch, $28 for a three-course dinner, $48 for an “executive” (i.e. fancier) three-course dinner. Of course the restaurant would be delighted to also serve you a cocktail ($13), a bottle of wine ($40), dessert ($8), a café latte ($4) and an after-dinner brandy ($15), which would certainly increase their meagre profit margin, slashed to the bone for Downtown Dining Week. But if your goal is to get a fine meal at a deeply discounted price, to visit restaurants you otherwise couldn’t afford, move quickly. This window of opportunity closes down at closing time Sunday. I’m delighted that so many top-quality restaurants have agreed to be a part of Downt ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: 5 ways to move our oil BY GRAHAM HICKS, POSTMEDIA NETWORK FIRST POSTED: FRIDAY, MARCH 11, 2016

Let's be realistic. Alberta's oil will not get to "tidewater" on either of Canada's coasts, not for 10 or 20 years. Those who believe fossil fuels are part of the climate change problem are winning the political battles in Ottawa, Quebec and British Columbia. New or expanded pipeline proposals that need regulatory approvals will not get built. Environmental reviews, appeals, appeals of appeals - are now so time-consuming and so expensive as to make new pipeline construction near-impossible. The only way increased production of oil - mostly heavy or diluted bitumen oil from the oilsands - can be moved is through existing pre-approved pipelines and rail lines. There's one realistic exception: New pipeline and new rail might be possible through friendly neighbouring jurisdictions. Canada currently exports 3.7 million barrels of oil per day (bpd). The currently transport system is keeping up, barely. Growth will still happen, slower than was predicted because of low oil prices, at an added 100,0 ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: Tom Goodchild’s Moose Factory is wonderful BY GRAHAM HICKS, POSTMEDIA NETWORK FIRST POSTED: TUESDAY, MARCH 08, 2016

Moose Factory Calgary Trail, Edmonton Food: 4.5 of 5 Suns Ambience: 4.5 of 5 Suns Service: 4.5 of 5 Suns Dinner for two excluding drinks and tip: Basic, $40; loaded, $70 There are restaurant owners who work hard at being contemporary, sending chefs to Vegas to copy the trends. And then there’s that rare animal, the restaurateur who knows, without consultants, without disturbing long-time customers, how to evolve with the times. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Tom Goodchild and his Moose Factory Prime Rib & Steak House. I have driven by the Moose Factory on Calgary Trail a thousand times, but hadn’t been inside for a decade. What a delightful surprise. Combining atmosphere, service, food and value, The Moose Factory is – full stop, end of discussion - the best steakhouse in Northern Alberta. One shouldn’t be surprised. Owner Goodchild may be well into his senior years, but the founder and guiding light of both the Moose Factory and the 10 Sawmill ri ... Read the rest of entry »
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