HicksBiz Blog

Category: Around town

Around town

Smart manufacturing, as typified by Drader, is alive and well in Greater Edmonton: Hicks on Biz column, Edmonton Sun, Dec. 8, 2012

Blanket statements about doing business in Alberta are dangerous things.Conventional wisdom says manufacturing, outside the oil patch, is impossible.We can’t compete against the Chinese. We can’t compete against the oil patch for wages. We can’t compete in transportation. And our input costs are too high.The business folks who don’t actually make real stuff have accepted these “truths” without critical examination.There’s a minor problem. Those truths are not true.Plastic products manufacturer Drader Manufacturing Industries Ltd, 55 years old, is not only going strong, but has expanded into Ontario. Most of Drader’s customers are not oil patch-related.Drader is hardly alone. According to Stats Canada figures passed on by EEDC, an astounding 1,791 manufacturers with less than 100 employees have plants in Greater Edmonton. How many serve customers outside the oil patch is not broken down.Drader caught my attention at the ASTech Awards in November, honouring scientific achievement in Alberta.It was the only indu ... Read the rest of entry »

Wild Tangerine is one-of-a-kind: Weekly Dish restaurant review from Edmonton Sun, Dec. 5, 2012

Wild Tangerine  10383 112 St.             780 429-3131       Wildtangerine.com Food: 4 of 5 stars Ambience: 3.5 of 5 stars Service: 3.5 of 5 stars Dinner for two (without beverages): Basic, $40; fully loaded, $100 Where does it come from? In what crazy brain space does Wild Tangerine chef and partner Judy Wu mix ‘n’ match like no other chef in Edmonton? She has dreamed up, and perfected, one-of-a-kind dishes that are signature staples on the Wild Tangerine menu: Octopus salad with spicy tangerine vinaigrette, marsala-masala spiced lamb chops, bison short ribs slow-cooked in salted rice wine. Judy shows no outward signs of culinary sophistication. Style is her brother and restaurant co-owner Wilson Wu’s department. He’s the talker. Quiet Judy stays in the Wild Tangerine kitchen, a plain black scarf always round her head, apron round her waist, cooking and cooking and cooking. Her E ... Read the rest of entry »

Mikado no longer tops in Edmonton Japanese cuisine: Weekly Dish Column, Edmonton Sun, Wed. Nov. 21, 2012

Mikado Downtown 10350 – 109 St.             780-425-8096       Mikadorestaurant.com Dinner for two (without beverages): Basic, $25; fully loaded, $50 I fear the Mikado Japanese Restaurant has gone corporate on us. It was one of Edmonton’s first ethnic restaurants, opening in 1972 on 116 Street in what’s now a tattoo parlour, moving to fancy new digs at 109th Street and 104th Avenue when Railtown signalled the start of the downtown renaissance. The Mikado has since grown, and now encompasses the Mikado Downtown, Mikado South and Mikado West End. No one family or particular personality has been associated with the Mikado. No Quons (Lingnan), Kapurs (New Asian Village) or Nobres (Spago) greet you at the door. It has been without a defining personality from the start. But always the Mikado has been dependable — for its tasty sushi and sashimi, rice rolls, tempura and bento boxes. Nothing’s ... Read the rest of entry »

ATCO Sun Christmas Charity auction offers plenty of dining options: Weekly Dish, originally published Edmonton Sun Oct. 31, 2012

Reviewing 80 restaurants and food shops in one Weekly Dish column is a tad unwieldy.  But let's give it a go, because that's how many have donated dinners, lunches, brunches, gift certificates and food products to the ATCO/Edmonton Sun Christmas Charity Auction happening through Thursday. Is there any restaurant of repute in all Greater Edmonton that has not made a donation? If packages interest you, head to www.campusauctionmarket.com, register online (it's very easy) and bid away. No computer handy? Call 780-421-XMAS (9627) from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday, then 9 a.m. to the auction's closing at 7 p.m. Thursday. An auction volunteer will place bids on your behalf. It's all for the United Way, Sign of Hope, Christmas Bureau and The Stollery. Let's start with those of you planning a big event, at work, with your family or your club members. (The package number is in brackets beside the description.) The Delta Centre Suite Hotel hosts a reception for 25 in its ballroom foyer (Pkg. 18). ... Read the rest of entry »

ATCO Sun Christmas Charity auction supports four charities: By Graham Hicks, special column for the Edmonton Sun, published Fri. Oct. 26, 2012

Let us begin at the end.The ninth annual ATCO/Edmonton Sun Christmas Charity Auction, running in both the print and online editions of The Sun next Tuesday to Thursday, ends with four organizations dedicated to the betterment of our lives here in Northern Alberta: The funds raised go to the Stollery Children's Hospital, The United Way, Catholic Social Services through its Sign of Hope campaign and Edmonton's venerable Christmas Bureau.Yes, it's fun to bid on the expected 300-plus packages donated by companies and individuals who believe there's more to life and living than squeezing every cent of profit out of their bottom lines. It's fun to be in prolonged online bidding wars as the clock ticks down to the auction's end at 7 p.m. on Thursday Nov. 1. And everybody loves a bargain, if bargains are to be had.But that's not the point.The point is that the money, the cold, hard cash, will be distributed equally to those four magnificent organizations above.For the sick kids at the Stollery, for the 60,000 people ... Read the rest of entry »

Edmonton's bus service, the good, the great, and the just plain ugly ... with a focus on the airport bus

Don't get me wrong, I am quite pleased, overall, with Edmonton Transit.Service is pretty good on most routes, drivers are for the most part pleasant, patient, friendly and good drivers.The LRT is very efficient. During rush hours, they come every five to six minutes. I can get from my home near the University's South Campus to downtown (one bus) in 25 min. to 30 min. during rush hour, and, best of all, I don't have to battle traffic heading home.But, we have a ways to go.Last weekend, I took the ETS route 747 (cute) bus from the Century Park LRT terminal to the International Airport. This is a great service for any traveller with a minimum of luggage and easy access to the LRT ... way cheaper than parking at or near the airport for a number of days.But ... 1. The actual bus stop at Century Park is impossible to find the first time you use it. It's on 111 Street, not in the main bus station. 2. It costs $5, but the driver doesn't give change!!! Would it be that difficult for the Route 747 driver to carry a few ... Read the rest of entry »

Alberta's economy IS diversifying: Hicks on Biz column originally published in the Edmonton Sun, Sept. 15, 2012

The mantra is repeated every day, everywhere.Alberta must cease being a one-trick pony dependent on the oil and gas industry, government mandarins murmur.Diversify, diversify, successive political party leaders shout out to their constituents.A funny thing has happened on the way to the Coliseum.Led by market forces, out-of-the-box thinking and judicious quasi-government priming, hundreds of new businesses are creating new wealth that will pay the taxes that will one day get our new arena/concert hall built.Here are four northern Alberta companies I have come across, outside the oil patch so creative, so promising, they do nothing but bode well for the future, for your kids' future careers.CLYW (formerly Caribou Lodge Yo Yo Works) (www.cariboublog.com)Edmonton is home to one of the world's top "return top" manufacturers. (The word "yo yo" is trademarked in Canada. "Yo-yoer" or "yo-yoing" is not.)Chris Mikulin's return tops are considered the Ferraris or Lamborghinis of the international yo-yoing world. They s ... Read the rest of entry »

Master chef is quite a character: Weekly Dish column originally published in Edmonton Sun, Sept. 5, 2012

Characters Fine Dining, 10257 105 St. 780 421-4100 www.characters.ca It is delightful to head to a restaurant where the chef is in full control, is a true master of the kitchen, and likes to have fun.When an extremely young Shonn Oborowsky returned from European and Asian chef apprenticeships, he opened Characters on 105 Street.It’ll never work, scoffed skeptical foodies. The kid’s just been given a toy by his parents. (Dad Don Oborowsky owns Waiward Steel, both Don and Shonn’s mom Judy are community leaders.) Edmonton’s not ready for another high-end restaurant, they said.Well. 13 years later, Characters is not only still here, it’s thriving.And certainly, after our fine-dining experience last week, Characters must be included in any list of Edmonton’s Top 10 restaurants.Characters is in its own stand-alone building, a single-story former warehouse on 105 Street a few blocks north of Jasper. The 50-something crowd may remember Night Fever dancing here, when it was the Sugar Tree discotheque. ... Read the rest of entry »

Violina a classical delight: Graham Hicks Weekly Dish column originally published in the Edmonton Sun Aug. 29, 2012

There’s going out for dinner.Then there’s dining out.Violino Gastronomica Italiana should be an all-evening affair, best experienced with those whose company one truly enjoys, whose culinary expectations equal one’s own.The atmosphere in the beautiful old mansion on High Street lends itself to the spirit of dining out. It once housed La Spiga, before Vince and Connie Cultraro uprooted to Palm Springs.The tables are set for classical dining, with linen tablecloths and napkins, multi-course cutlery, sparkling wine glasses and discreet waiters in suits or tuxedos.As is so often the case in Edmonton, fine dining at Violino’s is Italian. The menu moves from primi piatti (first plates) to zuppa e insalata (soups and salads), pasta e risotto (pastas and risotto-style rice), manzo e pesce (meat and fish), finishing with dolci (dessert).Our party of four is at Violino’s to eat well.And we do.The beginning is auspicious, with one of the finest antipasto misto platters I have ever sampled. In formal Italian cuisine, ant ... Read the rest of entry »

Fringe food: Mixed reviews: Weekly Dish, originally published Edmonton Sun, Aug. 21, 2012

By Graham HicksNobody really knows how many people wander through the Fringe in Old Strathcona for these fading days of summer, from last Thursday to this coming Sunday. The daily attendance figures are an “educated guess.”But enough growly stomachs traipse through to attract 21 on-site food venders, shelling out up to $6,000 for the right to sell at the Fringe. Most of the vendors return, despite the competition both at the Fringe and off-site in Old Strathcona.I, for one, hate wasting money on lousy street food – the greasy, lukewarm stuff that leaves you with a big lump in your tummy and follow-up problems of passage. So here’s a quick guide to the good, the great and the to-be-avoided on the Fringe food front.Forget the myth. Decent green onion cakes cannot be had at the Fringe. Green onion cakes were an Edmonton festival legend when Siu To, currently running Noodlemaker, and his family made them from scratch. The task became too daunting for Siu once his kids had their own careers.The current green onion ... Read the rest of entry »