HicksBiz Blog

Category: Around town

Around town

Remembering Edmonton's hot downtown clubs/restaurants of the early '80s

Back a few weeks ago, in Hicks on Biz, I wrote about the Downtown Hospitality Explosion, the renaissance of clubs and restaurants in downtown Edmonton, in part jockeying for position when the new arena comes on stream in 2016. Which got a few pals reminiscing about the last great wave of good clubs and restaurants downtown, surprisingly extending a few years beyond the great recession of 1982. Places we remembered in the downtown: Crackerjacks.  Scandals in the basement of the Howard Johnson's - now a Holiday Inn - a disco joint where Motley Crue was once booed off the stage. Darlings in the 4 Seasons, with the legendary maitre d's remark as he didn't allow one of The Eagles into the disco. "I don't care what kind of bird you are, you can't come into Darling's in jeans!" Flashback - Hottest club in town for many, many years! The Rose & Crown Pub in 4 Seasons - which has survived multiple ownership changes of the hotel. The Mansion in Le Marchand Mansion Jesters in the Boardwalk Walden's in ... Read the rest of entry »

Pampa introduces Brazilian wine to Edmonton

Why, one asks after yet another fine bottle of Brazilian red has been sampled at a media gathering in the Pampa Brazilian Steakhouse, has there been so little Brazilian wine available in Canada before? After all, it wasn't that difficult, after Pampa proprietor Oscar Lopez and his wine guy Nelson Gomes of FineVine Imports decided to focus on Brazilian wines in a restaurant specializing in Brazilian-style spit-cooked meat shop, to get the stuff.   They made a trip or two to Brazil's wine country to its south, met the growers and vintners, and simply fired up a not-too-difficult process of importing wine by the case from vintner to restaurant ... with a few bottles left over for FineVine to distribute through its retail network. It appears that Brazil has not gone after the export market for its wines, which, in price and quality, can easily compete with the much better known Chilean and Argentinian brands from South America. So the perceptive Mr. Lopez not only has a unique style of cooking and presen ... Read the rest of entry »

Hole in one: XIX fine addition to upscale-casual dining scene: Weekly Dish originally published in Edmonton Sun, Wed. Nov. 14, 2012

XIX (Nineteen) 5940 Mullen Way (Rabbit Hill Road, north of Henday Drive) 780-395-1119       Dinenineteen.com Food: 4.5 of 5 stars Ambiance: 3.5 of 5 stars Service: 3.5 of 5 stars Dinner for two (without beverages): Basic, $60; fully loaded, $100 —— It’s an inside joke, folks, and a bit of clever marketing. What kind of restaurant calls itself XIX, or, in the vernacular, Nineteen? Lucky 19? Oriental numerology? A winning blackjack hand? Is there a casino in the ‘hood? The 19th hole. Of course! It’s a casual golf reference to the gathering of friends for food and beverage after 18 holes of golf. XIX is inextricably linked to the Blackhawk Golf Course. Chef Andrew Fung ran Blackhawk’s dining room since it opened. His partner in XIX, Al Prokop, built Blackhawk, and remains majority owner of the members-only course located between Devon and the city’s southwest boundary. Some se ... Read the rest of entry »

Edmonton doesn't exist?! Hicks on Biz, originally published Edmonton Sun, August 17, 2012

By Graham HicksIt’s an annual insult.Every year around this time, the Economist Intelligence Unit’s releases its report on the world’s most livable cities with much fanfare. The Economist is a leading international news and business magazine.Every year, Calgary, Vancouver and Toronto make it in the Top 10. This year, Montreal was the only other Canadian city included, coming in at 16th.No Edmonton.A few years back, tired of this slight, I asked the Edmonton Economic Development Corporation why we didn’t rate, even though Edmonton and Calgary come out neck-and-neck in any survey of Canada’s livable cities.The answer, finally dug out of the Economist people, was that since Calgary and Edmonton were in such close proximity, only one needed to be scrutinized, and it was going to be Calgary.We were not even considered for the list! In the eyes of the authors of this prestigious survey, Edmonton does not exist.There’s an argument for not worrying about lack of recognition – why fret over how others see us, when we ... Read the rest of entry »

Taste of Edmonton near flawless: Weekly Dish column originally published in Edmonton Sun July 24, 2012

By Graham Hicks ,Edmonton SunFIRST POSTED: WEDNESDAY, JULY 25, 2012 12:00 AM MDT | UPDATED: TUESDAY, JULY 24, 2012 09:21 AM MDT It usually takes a while to get things perfect. But did you have to wait until the very end, Giuseppe Albi?Giuseppe is the long-time producer of A Taste of Edmonton. The event started under his watch as general manager of the not-for-profit Events Edmonton.After the 2012 Taste of Edmonton, Giuseppe is retiring. He'll focus on his other career, as a renowned abstract painter.This Taste of Edmonton is his best.Taste of Edmonton is the city's premier food fest. Forty-two restaurants booths line Churchill Square and are open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. every day until Saturday. Each sells two food items, usually at $4 to $5 each.Taste of Edmonton is now near-flawless. The food choices are outstanding, the balance between yummy grease-o-rama and healthier dishes has been found. There's also balance in the variety of restaurant booths. All tastes are fulfilled.The lay-out creates festivity. ... Read the rest of entry »

Night of the Living Dead - Klondike Days returns to haunt Edmonton

July 30, 2012: So after a well-publicized vote on what to call Edmonton's annual summer fair - currently under the generic Capital EX- the producer of said event  Northlands has announced the winner. K-Days! K-Days was the abbreviation, the slang-term, for the fair's long-standing name of Klondike Days. The original idea for the Klondike Days theme stemmed was Edmonton's peripheral involvement in the Klondike Gold Rush, as a staging area for one of the toughest ways to get to the Klondike gold rush up north. It came complete with barbershop quartets, men dressed in turn-of-the-century stifling hot vests and suits, ladies in the full Victorian style regalia of dresses. All of which the city was completely bored with by the mid-80s, especially when we really didn't have much historical claim to calling ourselves a Klondike gold rush town. So here's the can of worms that'll be opened with the decision to call Capital EX K-Days. What does K-Days stand for, the visitor will ask. Wel ... Read the rest of entry »

A chat with Earl's/Joey/Cactus Club patriarch Bus Fuller

While in Vancouver last weekend, soaking up the rain, my dear friends Sam & Sally Yehia took me to an Academy Awards party, a fund-raiser for the Vancouver children's hospital, at the Beach House Restaurant in West Vancouver."I've just met Bus Fuller," Sally said. "You're kidding!" I said. "He's one of my heroes!" The legendary restauranteur founded three of Western Canada's leading corporate-with-character restaurant chains, Earls, Joey Tomato and the Cactus Club, and it all started in Edmonton.The family continues to have majority control of all three, with son Stan the CEO of the 60-plus Earls, son Jeff head of the 20-or-so Joeys, an associate running the family-controlled Cactus Clubs, and son Stewart Fuller running his own restaurant brands.The latest figures on the privately held companies, from about two years ago, cite 100 restaurants in total, gross annual revenues of $450 million and 13,000 employees.So I had to go over and say hello.First off, Bus is the youngest looking 82-year-old you'll ever ... Read the rest of entry »
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