HicksBiz Blog

Hicks on Biz: The tyranny of the greater good By GRAHAM HICKS, first published Edmonton Sun, August 17, 2018

Oh city hall! When the mayor gets so mad that he publicly lambasts bureaucrats for inane decisions, like a “renewal fee” to keep family-purchased memorial plaques on park benches, you know the bureaucracy has run amok. Around city hall, “empowerment” has been in vogue. Empower middle management to make decisions without approvals from the upper ranks. Theoretically decisions and implementation will be sped up. Imagine the scenario. Deep in the bowels of the Department of City Services, a low-level management meeting is taking place. As always, junior managers are under pressure from the higher-ups to reduce spending and increase revenues.  A young minion at the meeting comes up with the idea of increasing income from park bench memorial plaques by introducing renewal fees … in the thousands of dollars! What a fine idea, the manager in charge of park bench revenues replies; a nice easy way of raising a few hundred thousand dollars! And thanks to “empow ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: Café Linnea sparkles in the evening By GRAHAM HICKS, first published Edmonton Sun,

Heaven on Earth: Cafe Linnea's buttery fois gras on a doughnut, topped with peach. PHOTOS BY GRAHAM HICKS/EDMONTON SUN Café Linnea 10932 119 St. (Holland Plaza) 780-758-1160 Cafelinnea.com Wed. to Sat. 10 am to 2 pm, 5 pm to 10 pm (Saturday opening 9 am) Sunday brunch, 9 am to 2 pm Closed Mondays Reservations accepted No listed delivery service Food:  4 of 5 Suns Ambience: 4.5 of 5 Suns Service: 4.5 of 5 Suns Dinner for two, excluding tip and beverages: basic, $50; loaded $85 By GRAHAM HICKS There’s something special about Café Linnea in its re-purposed warehouse space, with clean Scandinavian design, natural light, splendid air quality and a parade of greenery separating the bar from the diners. Café Linnea is an oasis of calm and quality. If music is in the background, it’s so blended into the ambience as to be unnoticeable. How wonderful to hear every word spoken by one’s dining companions. Cafe Linnea’s Scandinavian design loa ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Raise a Glass to the Re-developers By GRAHAM HICKS, first published Edmonton Sun, Aug. 10, 2018

Developer Ivan Beljan poses for a photo in front of the now sold Strathcona Hotel at 10302 82 Avenue in Edmonton, on Friday, July 13, 2018. His company Beljan Development is planning a redevelopment of the historic building. Photo by Ian Kucerak/PostmediaIan Kucerak Ian Kucerak / Ian Kucerak/Postmedia By GRAHAM HICKS An Edmonton renaissance is happening, under our very eyes. Hundreds of old buildings, most built between 1911 and 1915, are being “re-developed” by a new breed of developer. Re-development is much more than renovation. Old buildings are gutted, stripped down to their bones and re-built, but in a style respecting historical roots. It’s a beautiful thing: The Brighton Block, Strathcona Hotel, Williams Hall (the original downtown YMCA), Molson Brewery, Old Strathcona’s Crawford Block, Mercer Building, Gibbard Block (La Boheme), Substation 600 on 124 St, the Oliver Exchange, even the Camsell Hospital … the list of buildings being restored/re-built ... Read the rest of entry »

Edmonton Fringe 2018 - reviews: Jem Rolls' I Idiot gives hope to the English language - review by GRAHAM HICKS

I, Idiot – Jem Rolls Edmonton International Fringe Festival Stage 13, Old Strathcona Public Library 4 of 5 stars Last show:  Sat. Aug. 25. 4:45 pm. 60 minutes Review by GRAHAM HICKS,  Hicksbiz.com The English language has taken a beating these last few decades. English literature – the great classics of the language – are skipped over in school.  Teachers no longer know the rules of English grammar and composition. In fact, they are now a second or third generation of fuzzy generalists when it comes to the teaching of English (as a small part of social studies;  political correctness is given far more weight). None of them studied Latin, the language that explains grammar so well.  At the hundreds upon hundreds of shows at the Edmonton Fringe, theatre that leaves you delighted with the language – unless it’s true-to-the-original of Oscar Wilde, Charles Dickens, James Joyce or Shakespeare – are near non-existent.  Shows that use f* ... Read the rest of entry »

Fringe 2018 - reviews - TEDxRFT a fine send-up on TED Talk pretension

Review of improv comedy show  TEDxRFT at the Edmonton Fringe Festival, 2018 

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Hicks' Weekly Dish: Wilfred's is delish! By GRAHAM HICKS, first published Edmonton Sun August 7, 2018

A singularly delicious 9 oz. beef patty was within Wilfred's burger. Wilfred’s 10429 121 St. (Brewery District) 780-757-7009 Wilfreds.com 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Closed Mondays Reservations accepted No listed delivery service Food:  4.5 of 5 Suns Ambience: 4.5 of 5 Suns Service: 4 of 5 Suns Dinner for two: basic, $30; loaded $50 By Graham Hicks The late, great Bruce Wells, executive chef at the Homefire Grill and Café Orleans, always taught his apprentices this beautiful lesson. If one fresh herb does the trick, don’t toss in a bunch more. Keep the kitchen sink out of your soups. Avoid those last three shakes of salt, they’re not needed. Keep your recipes clean, keep them simple. As we enjoyed a superb dinner in the airy new Wilfred’s in the Brewery District, I couldn’t help but be reminded of Bruce’s dictum. Each dish from the small, casual dinner menu was fresh, clear and clean. The cauliflower and potato soup came to the table smooth, sil ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Edmonton start-ups show demand for computer sciences By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN August 3, 2018

Brian Heath (left, President, Drivewyze) and Brian Moffard (right, Vice President, Technology, Drivewyze) at a commercial vehicle inspection station south of Edmonton on August 24, 2017. Drivewyze is an Edmonton based startup company that delivers commercial vehicle safety solutions, specifically, a GPS and internet based weigh station bypass service. The company operates in most American states and just starting to work in Alberta.Larry Wong / POSTMEDIA NETWORK By GRAHAM HICKS The smartest advice to any kid graduating from a Metro Edmonton high school, who happens to like Alberta and plans on staying:  At university or technical college, specialize in Computing Sciences/Information Technology/Artificial Intelligence. For this column, I re-visited Edmonton companies that six years ago were mostly “start-ups”, i.e. small companies formed by innovative entrepreneurs to create and sell new, specialized products. It takes hard work with little pay for a start-up company to b ... Read the rest of entry »

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 »