HicksBiz Blog

Hicks on Biz: A Little of This, a Little of That BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 08, 2017

A few small business/money related stories, each capable of being much bigger... OILSANDS RE-TOOLING Operating and capital costs in the oilsands have been reduced by a most impressive 30% since the Great Oil Price Crash of 2014, thanks to full-press utilization of cleaner, greener, safer, faster, cheaper technologies, plus more productivity per worker and wages coming back down to earth. How ironic that low oil prices have spurred these innovations, as beneficial to the environment as they are to the economy. Innovation was slow as molasses during the oilsands’ pre-2014 glory years – why look for efficiencies when there was so money to be made? The current slow recovery of the Alberta economy is likely more about the retooling within the non-renewable energy sector (and the re-building of Fort McMurray after last year’s fire) than any other business. But more bad news for oilsands labour is coming. As is happening in mining operations the world over, within two to three years, ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks Weekly Dish: Patisseries just popping up BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 05, 2017

It’s a truly remarkable, and most welcome, phenomenon. In the past 18 months, at least 10 new patisseries have sprung up in the city. The French, who lead the world in creating these delightful baker’s confectionaries, have two different words for bake shops. A patisserie is about pastries and cakes. A boulangerie is about bread. Edmonton has always had independent bread-based bakeries – Italian, Handy, Popular, Bon Ton, Artistic, Boulangerie Bonjour, Italian Centre, Hazeldean, Portuguese Canadian, Cobs and more. But this patisserie thing — small boutique bakeries with sit-down tables, making hand-crafted and individually-sized pastries and cakes — is something new. What’s surprising is the overall quality. In my patisserie rounds, every single shop was impressive. Not one failed in freshness, quality, price or ambience. This is due to several possible reasons. The reigning queen of Edmonton’s patisseries has set high the bar: Duchess Bake Shop, o ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Northlands empire has fallen BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 01, 2017

It is the way of the world. Seasons come and seasons go. Empires rise and fall. Northlands had a good run — 138 years. But now its empire, sitting on city-owned land, has all blown up. The aging Coliseum sits empty other than the occasional C-circuit concert and the Canadian Finals Rodeo this fall and in 2018. Horse racing will be gone by this time next year. The Edmonton Expo Centre, a questionable expenditure 33 years ago, was originally financed with a $75 million city-guaranteed loan. Northlands still owes $47 million and is unable to pay the mortgage, so the Expo Centre is being taken over by the city. A visioning experiment caused much interest last year — but none of the alternative roles envisioned for Northlands has panned out, especially with tight government purse strings in this oil-depressed economy. Today, Northlands is de facto bankrupt. The city is turning the Expo Centre over to the Edmonton Economic Development Corporation, which has long run the Shaw Conf ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks Weekly Dish: The Situation needs a service upgrade BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: TUESDAY, AUGUST 29, 2017

Situation Brewing Co. 10308 81 Avenue situationbeer.com 780-705-1377 Dinner for two, excluding tip and beverage: basic, $30; loaded $60.   At what point does “not snobby” morph into sloppiness and indifference? At what point does a deliberately casual attitude – as befits Situation Brewing Company’s brew-pub location in the heart of the Old Strathcona – become too casual? I can’t say I was enamoured with the view of my server’s hairy armpits. He was wearing a tank-top, a backward ball-cap and shorts. Situation Brewing has been open for about a year. It was the first of the new generation of gastro-brew pubs to open in town. (Brewsters has long brewed good beers on site at its three Edmonton locations, but is roundly ignored by the trend-setters.)   Situation was followed by Biera restaurant, which opened last spring with on-site brewed Blind Enthusiasm beer. Biera was glowingly reviewed in this column last week. Polar Park Br ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Oil on decline but pot is hot BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: THURSDAY, AUGUST 24, 2017 UPDATED: FRIDAY, AUGUST 25, 2017

An industry is being born around Edmonton that will, ever so slightly, offset the decline of Alberta’s oil, natural gas and coal sectors. Marijuana! The fast-approaching legalization of recreational pot, plus the now-legal production of medical marijuana, will create a Canada-wide industry every bit as big as booze is today. Greater Edmonton, thanks mostly to the Aurora Cannabis Company’s massive indoor marijuana farm being built out by the Edmonton International Airport, is about to become a major centre of the new, legal, Canadian cannabis industry. It’s not just about getting high. Medical marijuana has a big market, both domestic and international. Hemp – essentially marijuana without the buzz – is coming into its own with dozens of non-recreational uses. Edmonton has a thriving hemp industry. Here are some of the immediate economic benefits flowing into our city and region. Now publicly traded on the TSX, with shares collectively worth a billion bucks, A ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks Weekly Dish: Biera, a most satisfying meal BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: TUESDAY, AUGUST 22, 2017

Biera Ritchie Market, 9570-76 Ave. 587-525-8589 biera.ca Wednesday to Saturday, 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. Closed Sunday to Tuesday Dinner for two, excluding tip and beverages: basic, $40; loaded, $80 Food: 4 of 5 Suns Ambience: 4 of 5 Suns Service: 4 of 5 Suns    A pile of chefs talk the talk. Beer is as sophisticated as wine, they say. Beer can be as carefully paired with food as wine, they say. Beer this, beer that … Few, however, walk the walk. Very few chefs actually create foods that discernibly, in the mouth, are truly enhanced by the addition of beer and its bubbles. Even fewer chefs make dishes that go well with one style of beer, and not so well with another. In fact, I was convinced (other than a cold lager with a hot curry) that the whole fine beer/fine food thing was just another millennial trend, featuring nothing but fashionable pretense. Then I went to Biera – the recently-opened gastro-pub/bistro/neighbourhood eatery in the new ul ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks Weekly Dish: Biera, a most satisfying meal BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: TUESDAY, AUGUST 22, 2017

Biera Ritchie Market, 9570-76 Ave. 587-525-8589 biera.ca Wednesday to Saturday, 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. Closed Sunday to Tuesday Dinner for two, excluding tip and beverages: basic, $40; loaded, $80 Food: 4 of 5 Suns Ambience: 4 of 5 Suns Service: 4 of 5 Suns    A pile of chefs talk the talk. Beer is as sophisticated as wine, they say. Beer can be as carefully paired with food as wine, they say. Beer this, beer that … Few, however, walk the walk. Very few chefs actually create foods that discernibly, in the mouth, are truly enhanced by the addition of beer and its bubbles. Even fewer chefs make dishes that go well with one style of beer, and not so well with another. In fact, I was convinced (other than a cold lager with a hot curry) that the whole fine beer/fine food thing was just another millennial trend, featuring nothing but fashionable pretense. Then I went to Biera – the recently-opened gastro-pub/bistro/neighbourhood eatery in the new ul ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Canada’s tax system is needlessly complicated BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED Edmonton Sun: MONDAY, AUGUST 21, 2017

Will no one rid us of this crazy, illogical, overwhelmingly difficult Canadian tax system? Our income tax calculations have reached absurd levels of complexity. The cost of compliance – i.e. accountant fees – has become almost as big a burden on small business as taxes themselves. Canada’s Minister of Finance Bill Morneau is oblivious to the problem; Justin Trudeau’s government has shown no interest in reviewing, overhauling and simplifying Canadian taxation rules. The problem, at its heart, is quite simple: Band-Aid upon Band-Aid upon Band-Aid. There has been no major review and reform of the Canadian tax system since 1971. Successive governments have expanded, modified, and changed the rules of the game by adding amendments, more regulations, closing loopholes, adding incentives and so on. It’s mind-boggling, but can be succinctly illustrated. The original income tax legislation, the 1917 “Income War Tax Act” was 10 pages long. Today’s 2017 I ... Read the rest of entry »

Citadel Theatre's Shakespeare in Love worthy of the highest praise: Review by GRAHAM HICKS

Shakespeare in Love Citadel Theatre, Shoctor Stage, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada September 16, 2017 to October 8, 2017 Tickets Review by GRAHAM HICKS,  Hicksbiz.com Rest easy, the Citadel Theatre is in good hands. Daryl Cloran has had a year now as the new artistic director of the Citadel Theatre, but the 2016/17 season was still picked and planned by his predecessor Bob Baker, who retired in the spring of 2016 after a long and rich tenure at the helm of the largest theatre in Canada west of Toronto. This season’s opener Shakespeare in Love is the first show of the first season that Cloran has fully overseen. Plus he decided to direct the show as well – which must have involved many 18-hour days leading up to opening night on Thursday, September 22, 2017. Big challenge! Shakespeare in Love is a sprawling, BIG play in all aspects, over two hours long, 20 actors, jam-packed with action and meaning. You may remember it began life as a movie, a major hit that earned seven Academy ... Read the rest of entry »

Soul Sistas an explosion of talent and energy: Mayfield Dinner Theatre review by GRAHAM HICKS

Soul Sistas Mayfield Dinner Theatre (DoubleTree by Hilton West Edmonton) Sept. 5 to Oct. 29, 2017 Hicksbiz.com review by GRAHAM HICKS Hang on! Taking in Soul Sistas at the Mayfield Dinner Theatre is like hopping into a musical Lamborghini on a race track with no speed limit. Breathless!  Exhilarating!  Exciting, and, dare one say it, probably as close to the originals (Tina Turner and Aretha Franklin) as is humanly possible. Tiffany Deriveau as Tina Turner and Tara Jackson as Aretha Franklin are far more than impersonators – they get inside their characters. In song, dance and spirit they channel these two super-stars of American soul, rhythm & blues, and, in Tina’s case, rock ‘n’ roll. Older patrons of the Mayfield Dinner Theatre, be not afraid. While the show is full of energy and enthusiasm and celebrates familiar music from the ‘60s to the ‘80s, it is presented within reasonable decibel levels. Soul Sistas is not so much a musical as two separ ... Read the rest of entry »