HicksBiz Blog

Category: Around town

Around town

Hicks on Biz: Edmonton hotelier not spooked by economy BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 04, 2016

How interesting that it took a 69-year-old independent businessman to build the first new major hotel in downtown Edmonton in 25 years, the 255-room (including 32 suites), 12-storey Hyatt Place at 9576 Jasper Avenue.   How interesting that Prem Singhmar was willing to break new ground, to be the first developer to make a major ($55 million) investment in The Quarters, the City of Edmonton’s vision for the Downtown East. Hyatt Place is one block east of the Shaw Conference Centre. And the new hotel has opened in the middle of a province-wide severe economic downturn. Prem professes to no particular financial acumen, but his track record is one of successful real estate and land development, one project after another. Starting with a chicken farm near Redwater on his arrival from India, via Libya, in 1985, Prem’s UAM Enterprises now consists of hotels, commercial and residential buildings and construction throughout Metropolitan Edmonton, plus agricultural holdings. “I am n ... Read the rest of entry »

Better to have loved and lost - Shadow Theatre's The Red King's Dream - review by GRAHAM HICKS

The Red King’s Dream Shadow Theatre production on the Varscona Theatre stage Edmonton, Alberta, Canada Oct. 26 to Nov. 13, 2016 Review by GRAHAM HICKS, Hicks biz.com  Prolific Edmonton playwright David Belke has written plays encompassing modern farce, introspection, historic figures mixed into the contemporary world, humour, confusion and much more.  He, with Shadow Theatre artistic director John Hudson, chose to re-mount one of Belke’s most introspective and serious plays, 1996’s The Red King’s Dream, for the opening play of Shadow Theatre’s 2016/17 season in the new Varscona Theatre. The Red King’s Dream is a quiet play – a two-hour introspective meditation on the nature of romantic love and infatuation.  An awkward, intellectual loner, buried in books, is kindled by passion as he falls in love with a woman with similar tastes who happens to live in the apartment building. While The Red King’s Dream is an interesting tre ... Read the rest of entry »

Great balls of fire, this show works! Review of Citadel Theatre's Million Dollar Quartet by GRAHAM HICKS

Million Dollar Quartet Citadel Theatre, Shoctor Stage, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada Oct. 22 to Nov. 6, 2016 Review by GRAHAM HICKS,  hicksbiz.com Tickets  Holy moly, Lord have mercy, great balls of fire, it’s a miracle! Well, not quite.  But damn near. Somehow, the Citadel Theatre found the perfect four actors for its production of Million Dollar Quartet, running through November 13, 2016 on the Shoctor Stage. Piano virtuoso, singer and madcap actor Christo Graham embodies the spirit, cheekiness and looks of Jerry Lee Lewis.   Guitarist, singer and actor Kale Penny plays every complex Carl Perkins’ guitar lick as if were his own.   Singer/actor Christopher Fordinal’s reincarnation of the young Elvis Presley will be a life-long meal ticket. Singer/actor Greg Gale impersonates (in the best sense of the word) Johnny Cash’s mannerisms plus possesses a melodious baritone that is uncannily Cash-like.  The context of the ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Rogers Place helping Edmonton take back the night BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED Edmonton Sun: FRIDAY, OCTOBER 14, 2016

Wednesday evening I am sitting in one of my favourite downtown spots, Bodega Tapas & Wine Bar at Sabor. It’s an hour before the Oilers’ first game of the season in the spanking-new Rogers Place just up the street. I have sat in this same chair many an evening, with its fine view of a massive concrete wall that is the west end of the Edmonton City Centre. Tonight is different. Instead of a pedestrian passing by every 10 minutes, as often staggering as walking, the sidewalks are alive with people who have packed nearby taverns and eateries and are now walking to Rogers Place. For once, the down ’n’ outers do not dominate the downtown come nightfall. For once, there are far more “normal people”. For at least 30 years, the reality of the downtown after dark has been at best uninviting and at worse downright scary. It’s been a ratio game. Less–fortunate Edmontonians – the panhandlers, the intoxicated and generally tough-looking characte ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks Weekly Dish: Clementine’s has much more to come BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED Edmonton Sun: WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 12, 2016

Clementine 11957 Jasper Ave. barclementine.ca 5 p.m. to midnight, 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday Closed Sundays and Mondays  (No reservations. no phone) Food: 4.5 of 5 stars Ambience: 4 of 5 stars Service: 4 of 5 stars Dinner for two (without tip or beverages): Basic, $40; fully loaded, $70 It’s far too early to tell – like declaring a Stanley Cup winner two weeks into the season -  but Chef Roger Letourneau at the newly opened Clementine has the potential to be the next culinary star to come out of Edmonton.  On the storefront street level of the new 35-story Pearl Tower on Jasper Avenue West, Clementine (or Bar Clementine, the name goes back and forth) is a jewel in the pearl.  Through a winter-proof vestibule, one enters a time-warp, magically transported to a classic European bar circa the 1930s – all dark polished woods, sturdy tables and counters, dominated by a massive curved bar behind which stands rows of spirits of every colour and hue. Co ... Read the rest of entry »

On Spanish wines - Baron de Ley the company, Tempranillo the grape, Rioja the region

By Graham Hicks I’m hardly a connoisseur of fine wines, having neither the palate or the pocket book to move much beyond the $25 range for a decent bottle of plonk. But over the years, I’ve extended my knowledge far enough to know what I really like, and which varietals best work for my tastes. I do know that Spanish wines from the Rioja growing region, made primarily from Tempranillo grapes, are delicious. Usually $25 or under for the “reserva”  category, i.e. in Rioja, having been aged in oak barrels for at least three years. Tempranillo reserva wines represent some of the best value to be found in Edmonton’s many liquor stores. When Sergio Soriano of the Baron de Ley Spanish wine group came through town as a guest of Nelson Gomes’ Fine Vine Imports, I didn’t pass up the chance to learn more about Spanish wines, particularly Tempranillos from Rioja, one of the two Spanish wine-growing regions that are  DOC – Denominacion de Origen Calificad ... 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 »

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: 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 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 »