HicksBiz Blog

Hicks on Biz: Red October hasn’t happened…yet BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: THURSDAY, OCTOBER 19, 2017

Happily, I’m on the hook to pay for a fancy dinner with my former boss John Caputo, now the Sun/Postmedia’s head of advertising for Western Canada. In June, Hicks on Biz predicted a serious financial downturn in Edmonton by the end of October, i.e. this month. Financial blood would be running on the street, I said, caused by the slowdown in the oilsands, the slowdown in all Northern Alberta construction and manufacturing, higher income and corporate taxes, minimum wage increases and the enormous debt being run up by this free-spending provincial government. It would all hit home, I said, with a sudden, thudding recession starting in October. Caputo, ever the optimist, took issue with the forecast. So we made a bet: A fine dinner, to be paid for by whoever was wrong. That was me. Hooray! Today, most credible economic forecasters – the Conference Board of Canada, Edmonton Chief Economist John Rose and others – are predicting a higher-than-average 4% growth this year ... Read the rest of entry »

HICKS WEEKLY DISH: The Bedouins: A desert oasis on the northside BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: TUESDAY, OCTOBER 17, 2017

The name is a draw unto itself.  “The Bedouins” – brilliant! It conjures up mythical images of Arabian desert nomads – Lawrence of Arabia, The English Patient, that kind of thing. Do Bedouin tribes have a distinct Middle Eastern cuisine? Not really. The two savvy partners in North Edmonton’s The Bedouins restaurant readily admit the name is more impressionistic, a brand rather than actual Bedouin dishes. While Bedouin tribes dot the desert landscape from Morocco to Saudi Arabia, maitre d’ Emad Elgaddafi and chef Ashruf Oun are offering North African cooking, the distinctive tajeens and beautiful lamb dishes of the Maghreb – the coastal regions of Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya. If there’s a regional bias, it’s Libyan. Pasta shows up more often than grains at The Bedouins, as Libya was once an Italian colony. Elgaddafi and Oun are of Libyan descent, Canada’s gain when civil war forced the two dynamic young men out of their ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: It's not entirely the Trudeau government's fault that TransCanada decided to kill Energy East BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: TUESDAY, OCTOBER 17, 2017

Whoa! Lay off the emotional over-kill! Of course Justin Trudeau's Quebec-lovin'government had a hand in TransCanada Corporation's decision to cancel its battered Energy East pipeline plan, deliberately throwing too many hoops into the approval process. But TransCanada's decision, no matter what, is mostly about business. The oilsands have dramatically lowered future growth predictions, thanks to cancelled projects, thanks to low oil prices. And TransCanada's other huge pipeline project, the Keystone XL, is going ahead. The previous American president nixed it, the new president approved it. Between Keystone XL, Enbridge's Line 3 and Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, enough new pipeline is coming up to handle the oilsands'slower growth without Energy East. So who needs Energy East ... at least at this point? (Hold that thought ... AT THIS POINT.) To build new pipelines, pipeline companies go to oil producers and "pre-sell" oil transport space. U of A oil economist Andrew Leac ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks Weekly Dish: Avila Arepa an example of “soul” BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: TUESDAY, OCTOBER 10, 2017

Avila Arepa Urban Venezuelan Kitchen 780-328-7887 Myavilaarepa.com @AvilaArepa Tuesday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Closed Mondays Dinner for two, excluding tip and beverages: basic, $18; loaded, $35 Food:  4.5 of 5 Suns Ambience: 4.5 of 5 Suns Service: 4.5 of 5 Suns  It’s so easy to say a restaurant lacks soul, far more challenging to define just what soul is. Well here’s a restaurant that, by its very being, is chock-a-block full of soul. We walked into the small, maybe 40-seat Avila Arepa close to the 109 Street end of Whyte Avenue, to be warmly greeted by a middle-aged fellow in a clean black T-shirt and a red bandana wrapped around his head. Could we have a table as far as possible from the restaurant speakers’ music, we asked. “Don’t worry,” he said, “I’ll turn down the music.” Which he did, immediately. Rolando Sandrea was obviously the owner, manager and order-taker. Despite working som ... Read the rest of entry »

Ubuntu at the Citadel Theatre: Entertaining, enriching and insightful Review by GRAHAM HICKS

Ubuntu (The Cape Town Project)  Maclab Stage, Citadel Theatre,  Edmonton, Alberta, CANADA October 11, 2017 to Oct. 22, 2017 Tickets:  $30 and up Review by GRAHAM HICKS, Hicksbiz.com I can’t remember the last time an audience at a Citadel Theatre production sat utterly bewildered for the first 10 minutes and then, by the show’s end, rose as one in an immediate, enthusiastic, standing ovation. But such was the case October 12, 2017, at the opening night of Ubuntu (The Cape Town Project) on the Maclab Stage. Ubuntu – meaning “a person is a person through other people” in the South African Bantu language – is full of richly layered complexity, simply and joyfully presented. Its mystery and magic lies in its deep understanding of the human condition, on so many levels, ALL THE TIME!!!  In almost every scene, three or four sub-themes, ideas, emotional hues, cultural clashes, pleasing/jarring visual and aural prompts simultaneously e ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: My platform if I ran for council BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: THURSDAY, OCTOBER 05, 2017

If I were running for Edmonton’s city council on Oct. 16, this would be my back-to-basics platform. City council’s first responsibility should be to the taxpayer, not the frivolous tax-user. Cleanse city council of “progressive” multi-million-dollar vanity projects, such as over-built bike lanes (never has so much been spent on so few, with so little in return). Bring fiscal conservativism back in favour. How can city council save taxpayers’ money, not spend it? Property taxes only provide enough money to maintain public infrastructure (roads, bridges, parks), to provide excellent police, fire and transit services. Leave the funding of social services — culture, social housing, social programs, recreational programs, libraries, etc. — to the provincial government with its much broader tax base. I love the Edmonton Public Library, but it should be funded from the provincial purse. Aim for true carbon reduction. The purchase of new city buses, for instanc ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks Weekly Dish: Revisiting some of Edmonton's classic restaurants BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: TUESDAY, OCTOBER 03, 2017

Isn’t it something when a restaurant remains competitive and vital after 30, 40 or more years of operation? At least 20 dining establishments in Greater Edmonton are 30 year or older and are still well-patronized. Months ago, the Weekly Dish reviewed a few classics – The Flamingo and Billy Budd’s among them. Suggestions then poured in from readers of other “classics” worthy of mention. At 75 years old, The Commodore (10712 Jasper Ave.) leads the longevity pack, although Teddy’s claims to be older. To walk in The Commodore is to step back in time, to plastic plants, brown vinyl counter stools and laminated tabletops. Third-generation owner David Gee describes it as a “proper greasy spoon.” No surprises in the Commodore’s $10.75 (cash only) eggs, sausage and endless-coffee breakfast. The fried potatoes were under-cooked. The coffee, while endless, was watery. Everything went well with ketchup. The High Level Diner (10912-88 Ave.), now 34 years old, ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on biz: Cheers to Alberta's oilsands! BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 2017

I once interviewed former Edmonton mayor Steve Mandel, just as he was considering running for mayor. It was a ho-hum interview, not much to remember. But he made one point I will never forget. “Doesn’t matter how much the city’s economy grows,” he said, using his hands to make a widening circle. “If there’s any contraction,” he said, bringing his hands closer together, “no matter what, it’s going to hurt like hell.” No truer words have ever been said. Which is why most of us are mystified by the non-negotiable, end-of-fossil-fuel stance espoused by many in our midst. These environmental “progressives” are willing to risk a major drop in Alberta’s standard of living by ending our major industry … no matter how minimal its contribution to global warming may be. Here we are, celebrating 50 years since the opening of the first commercial oilsands mine in Fort McMurray. The Sun’s excellent six-part series on the oilsan ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks Weekly Dish: Bottega 104 has about as much soul as Joey or Earl’s BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 26, 2017

Where’s the soul?   This is not to question the economics of the Crudo family’s latest hospitality venture, Bottega 104. The 60-seat restaurant on 104th Street is just a block south of Rogers Place. The new restaurant was jam-packed on Saturday evening before an Oilers pre-season game. The fancy cocktails, wine and beer were flowing. The pastas and pizzas streamed out from the busy kitchen. Ka-ching, ka-ching! You could hear the cash registers singing! But where was the soul? The two other major restaurants owned by Nick and Cristo Crudo and their dad Giuseppe, Café Amore and the Black Pearl Seafood, overflow with soul and old-world hospitality. Half the staff seem to be related, the smells, the conviviality, the big platters of fabulous fresh food, the checkered table cloths, the bantering, the fabulous soups .... When the Weekly Dish last reviewed Café Amore two years ago, it earned 4.5 of 5 Suns for food, 4 for ambience, 4.5 for service. The Black Pearl, rev ... Read the rest of entry »