HicksBiz Blog

Category: Around town

Around town

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 »


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 »

Hicks on Biz: Daryl Katz sensed the time was right to get out of drug retail business BY GRAHAM HICKS, FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: FRIDAY, MARCH 04, 2016

What was Daryl Katz doing, selling his Rexall drug store chain upon which he built his current fortune, for $3 billion to American pharmaceutical giant McKesson? It’s about being where the puck is going, not where it is. It’s about long-term vision, strategic transformation and deliberate disruption, about Katz becoming a global business player, rubbing shoulders with the likes of Warren Buffet, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerburg. In the drug retail business, Katz sensed the time to exit is now, while the going is still good. Rexall is primarily a bunch of drugstores, but the North America drug business is increasingly consolidating into “vertical integration”. The same mega-companies, i.e. McKesson, manufacture, distribute and retail drugs. Katz didn’t see himself in drug manufacturing and distribution. He saw the storm clouds on the horizon if Rexall continued as only a drug retailer. Obviously he was offered good coin to sell to McKesson. Buying the Oilers in 2008, ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks’ Weekly Dish: Best fast-food burger in town BY GRAHAM HICKS, FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: TUESDAY, MARCH 01, 2016

Two years ago, the Weekly Dish went searching for the best fast-food burger in town. The Harvey's Angus Burger finished on top at 4.5 out of 5 Suns, pursued by the A&W Poppa Burger (4.25 Suns). Then came the pack: The Fatburger Baby Burger (3.5 Suns), a Burger King Double Whopper (3.25 Suns), Wendy's Bacon Deluxe Single (3 Suns), the McDonald's Quarter Pounder (3 Suns), and Dairy Queen's Grill Burger (2.5 Suns). Edmonton has since experienced an American burger invasion. Three franchises -- Five Guys, Smashburger and Carl's Jr -- have moved into the 'burbs. St. Albert's Jack's Burger Shack has made a name for itself, as has the two-outlet Rodeo Burger. Alberta's Burger Baron group started way back in the '60s. Part II of the War of the Classic Burgers, the rules: The venue had to be a burger joint, had to be fast-food The burgers had to have bacon and cheese with one big meat patty or a double. If there was a signature burger, that's what we ate. Have prices ever jumped! Burgers in 2014 wer ... Read the rest of entry »

Costumes, colour and non-stop action: The Citadel Theatre's Alice Through the Looking Glass. Review by Graham Hicks

Alice Through The Looking Glass Citadel Theatre, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada Feb. 27 to March 20, 2016 Adapted for the stage by James Reaney, from the Lewis Carroll classic. Tickets Review by GRAHAM HICKS, Hicksbiz.com To truly enjoy the Citadel’s frothy, Cirque de Soleil-like production of Alice Through the Looking-Glass, look not for underlying philosophy, ideology or theology. Relax, sit back, and simply enjoy the theatrical feast laid before your very eyes. This is a production of non-stop delightful  moments, showing off the ability of professional theatre to create illusion at its very finest. It’s about costume and colour, superb team-work and great comedy – mostly of the physical variety.  When this stage adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s classic tones down to serious, or at least explanatory, it stumbles and goes cold as was the case in Act. 1.  Once Alice (Ellie Heath) has popped through the looking glass into her dream world (or is it the Red Kin ... Read the rest of entry »

This Wizard of Oz (at the Jubilee Auditorium) does justice to the legend - Review by GRAHAM HICKS

Wizard of Oz Jubilee Auditorium, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada Tuesday, Feb. 23 – Sunday, Feb. 28, 2016 8 p.m.   Sat. matinee, 2 p.m. Sun. matinee, 1 p.m., evening 6:30 p.m. Tickets $45 to $145, (plus 25% extra in facility charges and service fees) REVIEW BY GRAHAM HICKS  - Hicksbiz.com How beguiling, to see another generation of young children entranced  by the story of Dorothy and Toto and the land of Oz.  It’s been going on since Frank Baum wrote the original “American fairy tale” in 1900, through Broadway productions, silent movies, then into the stratosphere with the classic 1939 movie with the young Judy Garland – using brand-new colour technology – as Dorothy, and the movie’s subsequent re-spooling year after year on that revolutionary new social medium of the 1950s known as television. The Wizard of Oz, being performed at the Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium through Sunday, Feb. 28, is the latest wrinkle in the re-telling of this ... Read the rest of entry »