HicksBiz Blog

Hicks' Weekly Dish: Halley's Club at West Edmonton Mall ushers in the return of dining 'n' dancing By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN July 31, 2018

Halley's Club hostess Liz Obonebinja brings a Roaring '20s look to the dine 'n' dance establishment. Photos by GRAHAM HICKS/EDMONTON SUN Halley’s Club Starlight Casino, West Edmonton Mall Entrance 9 (second floor), 8882-170 St. 587-460-2428 Halleysclub.com Thurs. to Sat. 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. Food:  4 of 5 Suns Ambience: 4.5 of 5 Suns Service: 4 of 5 Suns Dinner for two: basic, $50; loaded $80 By GRAHAM HICKS Who would have foreseen the return of the “classic” dine ‘n’ dance club to Edmonton? In an era of clatter, small plates and bar-counter informal dining, Halley’s Club stands out like a sore thumb. A beautiful sore thumb! The massive ballroom-sized club in West Edmonton Mall is strangely beautiful, windowless with the highest of ceilings, all curtains and booths, polished wood and brass, some 270 seats. Halley’s Club is part of the massive conversion of the mighty mall’s former Palace Casino/Jubilations Dinner Theatre/Rum Jungle ... Read the rest of entry »

HICKS ON BIZ: The sanitization of death By GRAHAM HICKS first published EDMONTON SUN July 27, 2018

Ashes to ashes: One of two crematoriums at Serenity Funeral Service. Photos by GRAHAM HICKS/EDMONTON SUNEdmonton Garry Howdle admits to being old-school. As president and funeral director of the not-for-profit Serenity Funeral Service, he carries out the wishes of clients — the deceased person’s family — from weeks of mourning down to simple cremation in a pine box  with no ritual, no mourning, no goodbyes. Personally, he worries. He believes the growing lack of ritual, the “sanitization of death” has become avoidance of sadness, indeed, avoidance of death itself. He worries about an absence of psychological closure for those close to the deceased, comfort once provided by religious ritual. Few businesses have been as impacted by changes in Canadian society as funeral service providers. Forty years ago,  Mom or Dad would pass on, the adult children gathered at a funeral home for evenings of prayers and viewing, often with an open casket. After a church fune ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: Reviewing a Taste of Edmonton BY GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN July 24, 2018

At Taste of Edmonton, Kevin Kao prepares the Loma House sweet potato balls dessert. (GRAHAM HICKS/EDMONTON SUN)Edmonton The big news at this year’s Taste of Edmonton Festival, running through Sunday, isn’t about the food but about the venue. When the city temporarily converted Churchill Square into a staging depot for LRT construction, festivals using the square had to seek out new digs. With a little arm-twisting from Edmonton cabinet minister Brian Mason, the provincial bureaucrats reluctantly turned over the new, beautiful Capital Plaza just north of the Legislative Grounds to the food-eating, wine and beer consuming unwashed masses … who happen to own the space. It worked! On the “Taste Piazza” (Capital Plaza itself), festivalgoers can move around with alcoholic beverages, ice cream and summer drinks in hand —  no more do-not-leave beer gardens. The space has been discovered, with what’s likely to be record attendance by Sunday. Just off Ca ... Read the rest of entry »

HICKS ON BIZ: Alberta's long, long haul back to prosperity By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN July 19, 2018

Premier Rachel Notley, and Minister of Finance Joe Ceci, arrive at Scotsman's Hill in Calgary on Wednesday July 4, 2018. Leah Hennel/Postmedia So what’s happening out there? The Alberta government, 10 months at most away from the next provincial election, is holding up the economic glass and pronouncing it just about darned full. Business leaders wonder what brand of almost-legal marijuana Alberta Premier Rachel Notley and her financial minister Joe Ceci have been smoking. Edmonton’s been okay. Our financial health is underpinned by near 25% of the citizenry being on government and quasi-government (health/education) payroll, which the union-friendly NDP government has not cut. But Calgary was devastated, and most of Northern Alberta’s oil/gas regional centres – Cold Lake, Drayton Valley, Grande Prairie – are still in shock from the oil price crash of 2014, plus increased corporate and personal taxes, carbon taxes and increases to the minimum wage. In late Jun ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Greyhound pull-out a shock, but not a surprise By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, July 13, 2018

Passengers disembark on May 29, 2016, from the first Greyhound bus to stop at the new Greyhound station, which opened in the Via Rail location at 12360 121 St.Ed Kaiser / Postmedia That Greyhound Canada abruptly pulled out of Western Canada – and it doesn’t get more abrupt than three months’ notice – was a shock. But, in retrospect, the end of Greyhound (Western Canada) should not have been a surprise. Greyhound was operating on an obsolete model of scheduled bus service at fixed prices, leaving at the same time of day and heading out on the same routes no matter the demand or number of passengers on board, not caring about how passengers got to-and-from its bus depots. It also explains why Greyhound seemed content at its “temporary” bus station in some moose pasture (the VIA Rail terminal) out by the Yellowhead and 122 Street, having moved after the downtown bus station land was sold to Daryl Katz’s ICE District development company. In retrospe ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: Volcano — there's reason for lack of recognition By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN July 17, 2018

Dragon's Eye maki roll. Volcano Japanese-Vietnamese Restaurant 4226 Gateway Blvd. 780-756-2218 Volcanoedmonton.com Delivery: SkipTheDishes.com Sun. to Thurs. 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fri. and Sat. 9 a.m. to 2 a.m. Food:  2.5 of 5 Suns Ambience: 3 of 5 Suns Service: 2.5 of 5 Suns Dinner for two, excluding drinks and tip: basic, $20; loaded $40 By GRAHAM HICKS Oh dear. As a restaurant reviewer, I read social media restaurant reports, check with friends in the hospitality business, monitor dining-out blogs such as Sharon Yeo’s OnlyHereForTheFood.com. Because noteworthy new restaurants in this town are quickly recognized.  Conversely, hundreds of restaurants initially aspiring to high culinary standards are ignored. They don’t live up to their hype. Last week, we took younger friends out to dinner. I was looking for a south-side eatery that was quasi-trendy, had visual and culinary style, and a menu with something for everybody. The pickings were thin. The Weekly Dish ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: The Captain's Boil is a big, happy surprise By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN July 10, 2018

Hello there, Mr. Crayfish! Crayfish from The Captain's Boil at South Edmonton Common. GRAHAM HICKS/EDMONTON SUN The Captain’s Boil Edmonton South Edmonton Common 2051 98 St. 780-485-8756 thecaptainsboil.com No delivery service,  online ordering with store pick-up Mon. to Thurs. 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Fri. and Sat. 11 a.m. to 12 a.m. Sun. 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Food:  4 of 5 Suns Ambience: 4 of 5 Suns Service: 4 of 5 Suns Dinner for two: basic, $30; loaded $60 By GRAHAM HICKS The Captain’s Boil is a big, happy surprise. I am never one to trust franchise-restaurant operations. There’s no chef in the kitchen, no creativity at the table, usually just a franchise owner taking all orders from head office. But this Captain’s Boil – a rapidly growing Canadian franchise with some 30 restaurants across the country — is different. It’s fun, it’s shockingly different, the seafood is quite delicious, and very, very well-priced. The overall ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Alberta can tackle social programs because of strong economic bedrock By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, July 6, 2018

Edmonton skylineJason Franson / Postmedia By GRAHAM HICKS On Canada Day, Alberta’s news reports were all about righting wrongs from Canada’s past, be it racism, mistreatment of First Nations peoples, gender inequality, LGBTQ pride and acceptance. These are all fine causes worthy of our attention. But what is sometimes lost is that the ability of our province to devote so much to sociological/cultural issues rests on a solid economic bedrock and a high standard of living. Without far-sighted decisions made in the past, Alberta’s economy would be nowhere close to what it is today. Let’s celebrate, and teach our children, about the historical choices and people that have made Edmonton and Northern Alberta one of the most materially prosperous places on Earth. On my list would be: The building of Fort Edmonton:  If the Hudson’s Bay Company hadn’t built Fort Edmonton (1795 to 1891), Edmonton wouldn’t be here in the first place. The Cana ... Read the rest of entry »

Oscar would approve: Teatro La Quindicina's production of The Importance of Being Earnest - review by GRAHAM HICKS, Hicksbiz.com

The Importance of Being Earnest Teatro La Quindicina production at The Varscona Theatre Edmonton, Alberta, Canada July 12 to 28, 2018 Review by GRAHAM HICKS,  Hicksbiz.com Watching The Importance of Being Earnest, Irish playwright Oscar Wilde’s acclaimed farce that is as robust and amusing today as  when first produced 123 years ago, is to realize this play’s seminal influence on most light-hearted humourous scripts written since it hit the stage. There is not a comedic sit-com, a crazy Mayfield Dinner Theatre farce or humourous romantic film that does not owe a debt to The Importance of Being Earnest.  Remarkably, Wilde’s play continues to be the standard-bearer of plot, of beautiful and witty language, of a comedy of manners. Over a century later, The Importance of Being Earnest does nothing but improve with age. It is so appropriate for Teatro La Quindicina to stage The Importance of Being Earnest. Teatro’s  playwright-in-residence Stewart Lemoine almo ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: Imagine Okuda fundraiser a chance for chef to wow diners By GRAHAM HICKS, first published Edmonton Sun July 3, 2018

Imagine Okuda Fundraising Dinner June 27, 2018 Holy Roller Restaurant By GRAHAM HICKS The Weekly Dish usually avoids special-event dinners, given the idea is to review a restaurant in its every-day mode, to review anonymously, and to report on menu offerings that are always available. But this six-course fund-raiser on June 27, was different. It was created to raise funds for a six-story mural in Old Strathcona by globally recognized Spanish street painter Okuda San Miguel. San Miguel’s geometric works are packed with colour and vibrancy. The mural — to be painted on the north-facing side of the Crawford Block in a little-known plaza east of Gateway and south of 83rdAvenue – will offset the unrelenting white (snow) and green (evergreen trees) of an Edmonton winter. Imagine Okuda was also a chance to support Michael Maxxis, a culinary entrepreneur (Holy Roller, Have Mercy, and El Cortez restaurants) and a filmmaker. The interiors of his Old Strathcona restaurants are works of a ... Read the rest of entry »
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