HicksBiz Blog

Hicks on Biz: Save the downtown, the oilpatch and save us from city council BY GRAHAM HICKS, FIRST PUBLISHED EDMONTON SUN: November 2, 2017

Little stories that deserve to be bigger … save the downtown, the oil patch and clean coal, but  save us from city council and misleading marketing! DISPOSABLE DOWNTOWN? Do buildings now depreciate as fast as cars? In 1982, city council signed the death warrant on yet another historic Edmonton landmark. The historic Tegler Building came tumbling down so the Bank of Montreal (BMO) could construct a brand-new, glass-fronted regional headquarters in the heart of the downtown. The handsome, seven-story Tegler Building, with its brick exterior and Woolworth’s on the main floor, was a mere 70 years old. Judging from older office buildings in older cities, it had plenty of life left in it. Now the BMO building, only 33 years old (it opened in 1984), has a date with the wrecker’s ball. The bank has downsized into the next-door, brand-new Enbridge Tower. Regency Developments intends to tear down the BMO building and build a mixed-use high-rise on the site. The BMO building ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: Revel Bistro is a winner BY GRAHAM HICKS First Published EDMONTON SUN: October 31, 2017

WEEKLY DISH FOR WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 1, 2017 – REVEL BISTRO & BAR Revel Bistro & Bar 9802 Jasper Avenue 587-524-3333 Reveledmonton.com Tuesday to Thursday, 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 4 p.m. to midnight Closed Sunday and Monday Dinner for two, excluding tip and beverages: basic, $55; loaded, $90 Food: 4 of 5 Suns Ambience: 4 of 5 Suns Service: 3.5 of 5 Suns Excellence breeds excellence. Another young chef is to be welcomed into Edmonton’s fast-growing club of elite chefs – recognized across Canada when three of our top eateries – Clementine, Café Linnea and Alder Room – made Air Canada’s enRoute Magazine’s list of Top 10 New Canadian Restaurants. (To have three from one city, let alone a city a fraction the size of Vancouver, Montreal or Toronto, is unheard of.) His name is Tony Krause, chef and partner in the new Revel Bistro & Bar, on the ground floor of the replicated Alberta Hotel, directly acr ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: One last Rodeo for Edmonton's Northlands Coliseum BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST PUBLISHED EDMONTON SUN, Oct. 26, 2017

Well this is a real interesting kettle of horse dung, this dance between the Canadian Finals Rodeo, Professional Bull Riders, Northlands, the City of Edmonton and the Oilers Entertainment Group. All that really counts, however, is ensuring Edmonton remains the destination of choice for rural Western Canadians in early November, once the harvest is in, it’s time to party, do the Christmas shopping and maybe buy a brand-new pick-up truck. For 44 years, the Canadian Finals Rodeo (CFR) at the Northlands Coliseum along with Northlands’ Farmfair International did the trick. The “economic impact” (if you believe such specious metrics) is said to be $50 to $70 million. No matter the actual numbers, the second week of November has always been a bonanza for Edmonton hotels, truck dealerships, and country & western bars. Suddenly, the party has become transient. With the building of Rogers Place, the Coliseum became a white elephant. Without Coliseum revenue, Northlands is ef ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: London Local offers jolly good food: GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN: October 24, 2017

London Local 2307 Ellwood Dr. SW (South of Henday Drive, off 91 Street.) 780-752-2244 London-local.ca @LondonLocalYEG Tuesday to Thursday, 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 5 p.m. to late Sunday, noon to 8 p.m. Closed Mondays Dinner for two, excluding tip and beverages: basic, $50; loaded, $90 Food:  4 of 5 Suns Ambience: 4 of 5 Suns Service: 4 of 5 Suns London Local is a veritable mountain of paradox. On the one hand, a new, contemporary restaurant specializing in British cuisine (i.e. England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales) is extraordinary unto itself. Isn’t  “fine dining” and “English” an oxymoron?  Hasn’t the food world always laughed at the notion that these chilly, perpetually rain-soaked islands actually have a food culture … besides mushy peas, mashed potatoes and sausages?  Aren’t Indian curries the tongue-in-cheek “official” cuisine of the British Isles? On the o ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Red October hasn’t happened…yet BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: THURSDAY, OCTOBER 19, 2017

Happily, I’m on the hook to pay for a fancy dinner with my former boss John Caputo, now the Sun/Postmedia’s head of advertising for Western Canada. In June, Hicks on Biz predicted a serious financial downturn in Edmonton by the end of October, i.e. this month. Financial blood would be running on the street, I said, caused by the slowdown in the oilsands, the slowdown in all Northern Alberta construction and manufacturing, higher income and corporate taxes, minimum wage increases and the enormous debt being run up by this free-spending provincial government. It would all hit home, I said, with a sudden, thudding recession starting in October. Caputo, ever the optimist, took issue with the forecast. So we made a bet: A fine dinner, to be paid for by whoever was wrong. That was me. Hooray! Today, most credible economic forecasters – the Conference Board of Canada, Edmonton Chief Economist John Rose and others – are predicting a higher-than-average 4% growth this year ... Read the rest of entry »

HICKS WEEKLY DISH: The Bedouins: A desert oasis on the northside BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: TUESDAY, OCTOBER 17, 2017

The name is a draw unto itself.  “The Bedouins” – brilliant! It conjures up mythical images of Arabian desert nomads – Lawrence of Arabia, The English Patient, that kind of thing. Do Bedouin tribes have a distinct Middle Eastern cuisine? Not really. The two savvy partners in North Edmonton’s The Bedouins restaurant readily admit the name is more impressionistic, a brand rather than actual Bedouin dishes. While Bedouin tribes dot the desert landscape from Morocco to Saudi Arabia, maitre d’ Emad Elgaddafi and chef Ashruf Oun are offering North African cooking, the distinctive tajeens and beautiful lamb dishes of the Maghreb – the coastal regions of Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya. If there’s a regional bias, it’s Libyan. Pasta shows up more often than grains at The Bedouins, as Libya was once an Italian colony. Elgaddafi and Oun are of Libyan descent, Canada’s gain when civil war forced the two dynamic young men out of their ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: It's not entirely the Trudeau government's fault that TransCanada decided to kill Energy East BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: TUESDAY, OCTOBER 17, 2017

Whoa! Lay off the emotional over-kill! Of course Justin Trudeau's Quebec-lovin'government had a hand in TransCanada Corporation's decision to cancel its battered Energy East pipeline plan, deliberately throwing too many hoops into the approval process. But TransCanada's decision, no matter what, is mostly about business. The oilsands have dramatically lowered future growth predictions, thanks to cancelled projects, thanks to low oil prices. And TransCanada's other huge pipeline project, the Keystone XL, is going ahead. The previous American president nixed it, the new president approved it. Between Keystone XL, Enbridge's Line 3 and Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, enough new pipeline is coming up to handle the oilsands'slower growth without Energy East. So who needs Energy East ... at least at this point? (Hold that thought ... AT THIS POINT.) To build new pipelines, pipeline companies go to oil producers and "pre-sell" oil transport space. U of A oil economist Andrew Leac ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks Weekly Dish: Avila Arepa an example of “soul” BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: TUESDAY, OCTOBER 10, 2017

Avila Arepa Urban Venezuelan Kitchen 780-328-7887 Myavilaarepa.com @AvilaArepa Tuesday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Closed Mondays Dinner for two, excluding tip and beverages: basic, $18; loaded, $35 Food:  4.5 of 5 Suns Ambience: 4.5 of 5 Suns Service: 4.5 of 5 Suns  It’s so easy to say a restaurant lacks soul, far more challenging to define just what soul is. Well here’s a restaurant that, by its very being, is chock-a-block full of soul. We walked into the small, maybe 40-seat Avila Arepa close to the 109 Street end of Whyte Avenue, to be warmly greeted by a middle-aged fellow in a clean black T-shirt and a red bandana wrapped around his head. Could we have a table as far as possible from the restaurant speakers’ music, we asked. “Don’t worry,” he said, “I’ll turn down the music.” Which he did, immediately. Rolando Sandrea was obviously the owner, manager and order-taker. Despite working som ... Read the rest of entry »

Ubuntu at the Citadel Theatre: Entertaining, enriching and insightful Review by GRAHAM HICKS

Ubuntu (The Cape Town Project)  Maclab Stage, Citadel Theatre,  Edmonton, Alberta, CANADA October 11, 2017 to Oct. 22, 2017 Tickets:  $30 and up Review by GRAHAM HICKS, Hicksbiz.com I can’t remember the last time an audience at a Citadel Theatre production sat utterly bewildered for the first 10 minutes and then, by the show’s end, rose as one in an immediate, enthusiastic, standing ovation. But such was the case October 12, 2017, at the opening night of Ubuntu (The Cape Town Project) on the Maclab Stage. Ubuntu – meaning “a person is a person through other people” in the South African Bantu language – is full of richly layered complexity, simply and joyfully presented. Its mystery and magic lies in its deep understanding of the human condition, on so many levels, ALL THE TIME!!!  In almost every scene, three or four sub-themes, ideas, emotional hues, cultural clashes, pleasing/jarring visual and aural prompts simultaneously e ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: My platform if I ran for council BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: THURSDAY, OCTOBER 05, 2017

If I were running for Edmonton’s city council on Oct. 16, this would be my back-to-basics platform. City council’s first responsibility should be to the taxpayer, not the frivolous tax-user. Cleanse city council of “progressive” multi-million-dollar vanity projects, such as over-built bike lanes (never has so much been spent on so few, with so little in return). Bring fiscal conservativism back in favour. How can city council save taxpayers’ money, not spend it? Property taxes only provide enough money to maintain public infrastructure (roads, bridges, parks), to provide excellent police, fire and transit services. Leave the funding of social services — culture, social housing, social programs, recreational programs, libraries, etc. — to the provincial government with its much broader tax base. I love the Edmonton Public Library, but it should be funded from the provincial purse. Aim for true carbon reduction. The purchase of new city buses, for instanc ... Read the rest of entry »