HicksBiz Blog

Hicks on biz: Reason for a little optimism BY GRAHAM HICKS, Edmonton Sun FIRST POSTED: FRIDAY, APRIL 22, 2016

At last, a faint light at the end of a very dark tunnel. I am slowly convinced the Notley government is saying the right things, making the right decisions to speed up the process of “diversifying” Alberta’s provincial economy. There’s nothing like the sight of the guillotine to sharpen a person’s mind. Previous provincial governments paid lip-service to economic diversification. But as long as $10 billion a year in non-renewable energy revenues (i.e. oil and gas royalties, land sales) was gushing into the government’s coffers, nobody felt any particular urgency. Royalties this year will be less than $1 billion. Even if oil prices return to $50 to $60 US a barrel, the royalty gusher will never be the same. Here’s the reason for a little, just a little, optimism. In a series of announcements of loans, tax credits, investments and vouchers, the Notley government has committed to the start-up, growth and expansion of new, high-tech and innovative companies ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks Weekly Dish: Little Brick Cafe and High Voltage - Hard to find but worth it BY GRAHAM HICKS, Edmonton Sun, FIRST POSTED: TUESDAY, APRIL 19, 2016

Little Brick Café + General Store 10004 90 St., Riverdale 780-705-1230 littlebrick.ca 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., seven days a week Food:  4 of 5 Suns Ambience: 4.5 of 5 Suns Service: 3.5 of 5 Suns Lunch for two:  Excluding drinks and tip, basic, $20, loaded $40 High Voltage 10382-63 Ave. (corner 104 St. and 63 Ave.) 780-437-3202  Mon. to Fri., 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.  Sat., 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.  Closed Sunday Food: 4 of 5 Suns Ambience: 2.5 of 5 Suns Service: 3 of 5 Suns   There’s no character or personality on downtown Edmonton streets fronted by banks or office towers or inward-looking malls. The average suburban commercial strip — out beyond the Henday — is dullsville incarnate. So, please, raise a glass to new social entrepreneurs like the Little Brick’s Nate Box, who are as interested in community as they are in money. And may crusty old guys like Taso, who has made the best donairs and gyros on the South Side at High ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Party in power matters not BY GRAHAM HICKS, Edmonton Sun FIRST POSTED: FRIDAY, APRIL 15, 2016

It’s not about the political party that happens to be in power. If Jim Prentice hadn’t called the Alberta election a year early, his Progressive Conservative Party would be in the same deep do-do as Rachel Notley’s New Democrats. It’s about a near unalterable reality that Albertans must face. This economic crisis isn’t going away. Global energy analysts predict world oil and gas prices will not recover for a very long time, probably decades. World-wide demand for fossil fuels is dramatically slowing. Supply just keeps on growing. There’s no way around it – Alberta’s over-all standard of living will have to drop. By how much, nobody knows. For the sake of argument, let’s say, conservatively, 10%. It matters not what party is in power. The gusher of cash from oil and gas is gone, not to return for many, many years. In Calgary, they call it the new “long low.” The marketplace, that cold-hearted beast, has already reacted, s ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks Weekly Dish: Cibo revisited BY GRAHAM HICKS, Edmonton Sun, FIRST POSTED: TUESDAY, APRIL 12, 2016

Cibo Bistro 11244-104 Ave. (Oliver Square), 780-757-2426 www.cibobistro.com Tues. to Fri. 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sat. 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Closed Sundays and Mondays Food:  4.5 of 5 Suns Ambience: 4 of 5 Suns Service: 4.5 of 5 Suns Dinner for two: Excluding drinks and tip, loaded, $120, basic, $50 Returning to a restaurant previously reviewed starts with worry. You mightily enjoyed that dinner four years ago, gave the establishment top marks. But, with so many other eateries out there worthy of attention, you have not been back. What if the eatery has gone into decline? Been sold? Changed chefs? Started to cheap out? What if the restaurant had been guilty of inconsistency, one night to the next? To report that Rosario Caputo’s Cibo Bistro in Oliver Square remains on top of its game is both satisfying and a relief. In fact, with its service much improved, I would move Cibo up a notch. With one or two more improvements in the kitchen, Cibo would be ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Edmonton Oilers, job losses and more BY GRAHAM HICKS, Edmonton Sun FIRST POSTED: FRIDAY, APRIL 08, 2016

A little bit of this, a little bit of that in Hicks on Biz this week – Living longer, bus depots in the middle of nowhere, cuppa coffee with the Oilers, job losses, farmland. Another minute in the spotlight Of the 133 former Oilers who gathered Wednesday to bid farewell to Rexall Place, about half the names were recognizable. The other half were here for a cuppa coffee, likely playing a few games before being sent back to the minors. Most of the guys have woulda, coulda, shoulda stories – untimely injuries, the GM didn’t like them, too many players at the position, never given a chance. Still, they made it to the Big Show, if even for a game or two, creating a treasured memory. Friends and relatives all know Joe Schmo was an Oiler for a few games. Now, thanks to this collegial gesture by Oiler management, they all enjoyed another moment of recognition.   Farewell oil-patch jobs, hello McJobs Interesting job statistics from a TD Bank study: The provincial job mark ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' weekly dish: Lemongrass Cafe simple, but good BY GRAHAM HICKS, Edmonton Sun FIRST POSTED: TUESDAY, APRIL 05, 2016

Lemongrass Cafe 10417 51 Ave. 780-413-0088 Facebook   Mon. to Fri. 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sat. noon to 10 p.m. Sun. 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.    Food:  4 of 5 Suns Ambience: 3 of 5 Suns Service: 3 of 5 Suns   When my family is in the mood for a light, tasty, filling meal, we inevitably turn to Vietnamese cooking. It’s a gentle, delicate cuisine - less greasy than Chinese, not as spicy or sweet as Thai, less forceful than South Asian. More shy and retiring than other Asian cuisines, Vietnamese food is dependably tasty, rarely sits around in the kitchen, and usually uses the freshest of ingredients. Then there’s the famous pho soup, a meal unto itself for which every self-respecting Vietnamese restaurant has a secret family recipe. I have a mental taste-fest, just thinking about pho! Heading into the city from the Edmonton International on Saturday afternoon, the Lemongrass Café on the South Side, on 51 Ave. was calling our name - especially after a four-hour pl ... Read the rest of entry »

Citadel production of Other Desert Cities drowns in cliches

Other Desert Cities Playing at the Citadel Theatre, Edmonton, Alberta Canada April 9 to May 1, 2016 Review by GRAHAM HICKS,  hicksbiz.com In a 50th anniversary Citadel Theatre season that has exploded with so much theatrical brilliance -  Boom, Evangeline, Christmas Carol, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Alice Through the Looking-Glass and the upcoming West Side Story,  Other Desert Cities ranks as the season's only dud.  There are a handful of great American dramas dealing with family dysfunction - heck, American playwrights aren’t comfortable unless they are hurling grenades at the All-American family. But Other Desert Cities, playing at the Citadel Theatre through May 1, 2016, isn’t one of them. This is a lightweight play delusionally convinced it’s a heavyweight. Other Desert Cities has universal themes, dwelling deeply on the right, or downright need, of writers to express their beliefs and opinions no matter the emotional damage to others. It's e ... Read the rest of entry »

Ukrainian Shumka Dancers' premiere of Kobzar misses the mark, but secondary show shines

Shumka Ukrainian Dancers  Kobzar and Travelling Chumaky April 9 and 10, 2016 Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium Review by Graham Hicks You have to admire the restless spirit of Edmonton’s now 57-year-old Ukrainian Shumka Dancers, long considered one of the best, if not the best, Ukrainian folk-dance troupes in the world.  For its 2016 performances, sadly just two shows in the Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium last Saturday and Sunday, April 9 and 10, 2016, Shumka didn’t just go with any old world premiere – you know, hire a choreographer, find the appropriate music, and off they go. This time around, Shumka, in collaboration with leading lights of Ukrainian culture, decided to go for the Big Show -  a massive allegorical tale of the suffering and triumphs of the Ukrainian people as a whole. The music was custom written and composed by Ukrainian national artist and composer Yuri Shevchenko, recorded in Kiev with a massive choir and a 68-member orchest ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks Weekly Dish: Local Omnivore doing it right BY GRAHAM HICKS, POSTMEDIA NETWORK FIRST POSTED: TUESDAY, MARCH 29, 2016

The Local Omnivore 10933 120 St. 780-660-1051 www.thelocalomnivore.com Tues. to Thurs. 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sat. and Sun. 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Closed Mondays Food: 4.5 of 5 Suns Ambience: 4 of 5 Suns Service: 4 of 5 Suns Lunch for two: Excluding drinks and tip, loaded, $35, basic, $20 Doing it right has never been more pronounced. Mark Bellows and Ryan Brodziak started The Local Omnivore as a relatively low-cost food truck specializing in meat sandwiches and hamburgers. Having built an excellent reputation as a mobile operation, they moved that reputation into one of the city’s best sandwich shops, custom-built to their specifications. The Local Omnivore restaurant opened before Christmas and hasn’t looked back. What do they do right? Mostly, they do it all themselves. They source their meat from a network of organic farms around Edmonton that specialize in range-free, hormone-free, grass-fed etc. etc. One of the Omnivore staffers actually butchers much of their mea ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Alberta is already a world leader in reducing CO2 emissions BY GRAHAM HICKS, POSTMEDIA NETWORK FIRST POSTED: SATURDAY, MARCH 26, 2016

Okay, so we are expected to suck it up and take one for climate change. Soon, Alberta’s middle class families will be turning over hundreds more dollars a year in a carbon tax – i.e. much higher taxes on gasoline powering our vehicles and natural gas heating our homes, and who knows what else. This will raise billions of dollars, which will all be re-invested, Premier Rachel Notley promises, into ways and means of becoming a “carbon-free” province. Here’s my problem: Notley’s criticism of past Conservative governments for “not doing anything” about climate change is totally and absolutely wrong. Alberta – our research institutes, universities, energy companies and our unique Climate Change & Emissions Management Corporation (CCEMC) – was a global leader in reducing GHG (greenhouse gas emissions) well before Ms. Notley came to power, and continues to be a world leader. Let me count the ways. Up in the oilsands, most of the major ... Read the rest of entry »
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