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Hicks weekly dish: Get out to downtown dining week BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: TUESDAY, MARCH 14, 2017

Hurry, hurry, Downtown Dining Week ends at the close of business this coming Sunday. If you don’t get a reservation as soon as possible, you may find yourself shut out. The event – superbly organized by the Downtown Business Association – is the Boxing Day sale of our better downtown restaurants. Pre-set two-course lunches can be had for $15 per person, three-course dinners for $28, executive dinners for $45. Rarely can you dine so well for so little. The last time I paid $15 for a lunch at most of these places was for a starter salad with water! Downtown Dining Week is a public-relations exercise that helps fill these downtown restaurants during a slow time of the year. In the tight margins of the food & beverage game, nobody makes money at these prices. But the exposure works, otherwise 33 (out of a possible 47 restaurants by my reckoning) would not participate – and most have come back for years and years. There’s discernment at work here. Within their ow ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Looking forward to the Indigenous People’s Experience BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: FRIDAY, MARCH 10, 2017

My wife and I are off to Winnipeg for a few days this summer. We’ll visit relatives and see the city. But our primary motivation will be visiting the new Canadian Museum for Human Rights. Opened in 2014, the museum cost $350 million. It is already a civic icon. Think of Winnipeg and you think of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, the Blue Bombers, the Jets and now the human rights museum. Maria and I will spend about $1,000 on airfare, accommodations, meals, getting around and admissions. Winnipeg Tourism will love us – proof tourist dollars are flowing into Winnipeg thanks to the museum. That’s why I am so excited, in so many ways, about the now fully-funded $42 million Indigenous People’s Experience exhibit to be built at Fort Edmonton Park. The exhibit will be the crown jewel of a $150-million upgrade (a three-way split between the Edmonton, Alberta and federal governments) to our top historical attraction. Fort Edmonton’s aging utilities will be overhauled and other inter ... Read the rest of entry »

Baskerville at the Mayfield Dinner Theatre - Farce and murder mystery delightfully collide: Review by GRAHAM HICKS

Baskerville – A Sherlock Holmes Mystery Mayfield Dinner Theatre, Doubletree by Hilton Hotel, 16615-109 Avenue, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada February 7 to April 2, 2017 Tickets (including buffet dinner), $75 to $100 Mayfieldtheatre.ca Review by GRAHAM HICKS,  Hicksbiz.com There is something enticingly relaxing about an evening out at the Mayfield Dinner Theatre. You are not supposed to think critically, not supposed to debate the show’s inner meanings, not be upset or outraged. You are simply to sit back, satiated after a good buffet dinner, sipping on a nice glass of wine, and be entertained. And the entertainment value doesn’t get much better than the comedic farce/whodunit now playing, Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery.  Five actors, 30-plus characters, dozens of scenes introduced by the actors sneaking scenery on stage,  a farce with many doors equally carried on stage for actors to jump in and out of.  It truly is a laugh a mi ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Oil patch is bouncing back BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 10, 2017

Heartening news is emerging out of the oil patch. According to two of the best energy analysts in Alberta, Peter Tertzakian and Jackie Forrest of Calgary’s ARC Energy Research Institute, plus anecdotal evidence from those working in the oil patch, things are picking up. Not like the halcyon days leading up to the Great Crash of 2014, mind you. But way better than 2015 and 2016, when barely an oil-patch wheel was turning and the Canadian energy industry had losses of $52 billion and $32 billion, respectively. Right now, 200 drilling rigs are out there in Alberta — up 50 per cent from a year ago. The drilling is for higher-valued natural gas, liquids (ethane, propane, butane) and oil. Oil biz CEOs are banking on $50 US (or more) a barrel for West Texas oil — $70 Canadian — being steady for the next few years. Improved technology has dramatically lowered drilling costs and increased production per new well. The returns have piqued investor interest. Conventional oil, gas and l ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks Weekly Dish: A Bazaar of great food and poor service BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 22, 2016

Wheat Garden Noodle & Dumpling Bazaar 10703 103 St. 780-757-8166 Wheatgardenyeg.ca 11:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Closed Tuesdays Food: 4 of 5 Suns Ambience: 2 of 5 Suns Service: 2 of 5 Suns Dinner for two (excluding beverages and tip): basic, $20; loaded, $40 Intrigued by the descriptive name and encouraged by optimistic reviews from well-known food blogs linda-hoang.com and letsomnom.com, off we set Saturday to Chinatown to try the relatively new Wheat Garden Noodle & Dumpling Bazaar. The food is very good, but for ambience and service, I recommend take-out. The exterior of Wheat Garden looks fine as you pass by – it’s the familiar bright-red house on the northeast corner of 107 Avenue and 103 Street that formerly housed the Old Szechuan Restaurant. But as you head up the short flight of outside stairs to the restaurant, you realize this is an old, worn-out building with minimal maintenance and no upgrades. The dining area – allegedly renovated — is w ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: A new made-in-Edmonton product is born BY GRAHAM HICKS, FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 17, 2016

There’s something about St. Albert’s Connie Stacey, founder, owner and “mad scientist” at Growing Greener … her buoyancy, enthusiasm and intelligence. The 42- year-old mother of two young’uns lights up a room with her presence. Born in Newfoundland, raised in Fort McMurray, Connie has invented, developed and is now selling the Grengine™ 1000 Ultra-Lite, the world’s first battery-powered, light-weight, no-noise, no-fumes portable generator … that will last for days without a recharge. When re-charging is needed, it can be done back at an electrical outlet or via a solar panel. Other battery-powered generators are on the market, but most are powered by one big, heavy rechargeable battery with limited hours of operation. Growing Greener’s secret is a patent-pending battery pack design, a novel method of stacking and interlocking light lithium-ion battery packs under the Grengine™ 1000. The stacked battery packs work as one, giv ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Alberta agriculture takes a dive BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: SATURDAY, OCTOBER 29, 2016

As Farmfair International and the Canadian Finals Rodeo approach, Alberta’s agricultural sector, I am sad to report, is in about as good shape as the province’s oil and gas industry. The price of Alberta beef on-the-hoof has crashed hard, from a record peak 16 months ago of almost $200 per 100 lbs. to $135 per 100 lbs. today. Hogs have been much cheaper for a long time. Pork producers have found their profits even further eroded since June. The price per 100 lbs. has dropped from $90 to $75. (The consumer mystery remains: If beef wholesale prices have dropped like a rock, why is premium beef still selling at the grocery stores for $30 a kilogram? Then again, the usual highlow cycles of livestock production appear out of whack.) By late summer, grain growers were dancing a jig. Despite later-than-usual planting, crops were growing to beat the band, thanks to plentiful rain. But October’s snow in Central and Northern Alberta hit just as the late harvest had begun. Twothirds of the cro ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks Weekly Dish: From autobody shop to Café Linnea BY GRAHAM HICKS, FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN : TUESDAY, OCTOBER 25, 2016

Café Linnea Holland Plaza, 10934 119 St. 780-758-1160 cafelinnea.ca Mon. Thurs. Fri. Sat. - 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sun. 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., high tea 3 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. Closed Tues. and Wed. No reservations other than Sunday tea sittings Lunch for two (without tip or beverages): Basic, $25; fully loaded, $45 Food: 4 of 5 Suns Ambience: 5 of 5 Suns Service: 4 of 5 Suns   Located in a former autobody shop, gutted and completely reconstructed, the new Café Linnea is presenting the dining experience at its highest possible level. “Look at the quality of the glassware,” marvelled a friend more adept than I at analyzing beauty, “the quality of the natural light here, its interaction with the interior lighting, the really healthy plants, the air quality, the acoustics … and everything is impeccably clean. I am so impressed with this place … this is my seventh visit!” No detail has been overlooked at Café Linnea – Its design, a cat ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: A made-in-Edmonton super drug? BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 23, 2016

This business story has so many angles, one scarce knows where to begin. A (potential) $750 million (US) drug development deal; world-leading drug research in Edmonton; a passing-of-the-torch from the now-deceased Edmonton-based drug researcher Dr. Ron Micetich to his drug-business savvy son Chris Micetich; a dizzying series of business manoeuvres involving the promising new drug; disruptive yet promising ways of doing business. The drug development deal was an under-publicized monster, announced in January of 2015: Swiss drug giant Roche purchased the world-wide (excluding Japan) rights to a promising but unproven antibiotic drug owned by Edmonton’s Fedora Pharmaceuticals, in partnership with Japan’s Meiji Seika Pharma. If the "beta-lactamase inhibitor" OP0595 passes clinical trials and is approved by regulators, it may be the new super-bacteria bug killer the world is looking for. If so, Fedora and Meiji Seika will pocket the entire $750 million from Roche, plus sales royalties. T ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks Weekly Dish: The hidden treasures of Alberta Avenue BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 20, 2016

Thank God for Alberta Avenue – better known to the non-locals as 118th Avenue. Alberta Avenue keeps Edmonton’s food scene honest. You can have your frothy cocktails and fish tacos in Old Strathcona, on 124th Street and now downtown. You can have your craft beers in those fake-rustic gastropubs, served by scruffy hipsters with toques pulled over their eyebrows. Alberta Avenue harkens back to an earlier, more innocent era. Newly arrived immigrants couldn’t speak English, but mama could cook and papa could figure out how to take orders. The neighbours might be a tad sketchy, but Alberta Avenue offered a rare combo of cheap storefront rents and pedestrian traffic. To this day, the most interesting, low-cost restaurants in the city are strung along 118th – from NAIT to Northlands, then from 50 Street to 34 Street. It’s a little United Nations, with Asian, European, Central American, South American, African, Filipino and Caribbean food outlets, even a sprinkle of good ol&rs ... Read the rest of entry »
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