HicksBiz Blog

Hicks' Weekly Dish: Back to basics at Century Mile’s Derby Restaurant By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, January 28, 2020

One delicious plate of liver 'n' onions, smothered in gravy at the Century Mile Casino's Derby Restaurant. Photos by GRAHAM HICKS / EDMONTON SUN Derby Restaurant, Century Mile Racetrack and Casino 4711 Airport Road, Nisku 587-416-6453 cnty.com No delivery service listed Restricted to 18 years or older Hours: 9:30 a.m. to 3 a.m., closed only on Christmas Day Dinner for two, excluding beverages, tip and taxes: Basic, $28, loaded, $40 STORY CONTINUES BELOW Food: 3.5 of 5 Suns Ambience: 2.5 of 5 Suns Service: 4.5 of 5 Suns When the super-friendly waitress plopped her elbows down on the (raised booth) table to tell us about the specials of the day, the flashback happened. When I was a kid, on any special occasion, the family would pile into the station wagon to head to the local mom ‘n’ pop restaurant. The middle-aged waitress (we didn’t know what a server was) was boisterous and welcoming. She always had a pencil tucked behind her ear. She’d been t ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Cannabis goes bust By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, January 24, 2020

Cannabis plants are shown at Sundial Growers facility in Olds.Dean Pilling / Postmedia It’s a business story as old as time. Canada’s cannabis green-gold rush has gone bust. It happened with Bre-X, with the dot.com bubble, with Nortel, with the American lending/real estate crash of 08-09. Everybody gets super-excited over one or two companies, or a sector. Investors pile in. Rationale goes out the window. The shares double, triple, quadruple in value. Buy, buy, buy! We’re rich!!!! And then it happens. Feast to famine. Hero to zero. The company cannot possibly produce the revenue to sustain such sky-high stock prices. The smart money starts to sell, the selling stampede starts, investors pile out. Usually the company (or companies) end up worthless and/or bankrupt. STORY CONTINUES BELOW Sadly, the stakes are higher in the Edmonton area. It’s not just a few thousand foolish folks who invested in cannabis companies without doing their research. ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: The best ribeyes (for the price) in Edmonton By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, January 21, 2020

The LUX Steakhouse much-publicized "dry-aged" ribeye steak is not the best value proposition in the market. GRAHAM HICKS / EDMONTON SUN By GRAHAM HICKS The trendy gang so looks down its nose at the classic steak dinner – a 10 to 16-ounce sirloin/ribeye/T-bone  with mashed or French fries, a carrot or two and broccoli on the side. But reality pushes its way through the anti-steak/anti-Conservative/vegan-loving minority so much louder in the media than its numbers warrant. The majority of Canadians love their meat!  And they especially love steaks, if only they could afford them! Eight specialty steakhouses in Edmonton compete for the silent meat-loving majority. STORY CONTINUES BELOW A steak dinner out has to be a special occasion. The average price for a rib-eye on a per-ounce basis at the steakhouses compared for this column, was $3.75 an ounce. The immediate experience that inspired this column was not great. LUX Steakhouse & Bar is the most enduring s ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: You too can be successful in Edmonton By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, January 17, 2020

Skyline taken from the airport control tower at the Blatchford Redevelopment in Edmonton, December 4, 2017.Ed Kaiser Ed Kaiser / Ed Kaiser/Postmedia By GRAHAM HICKS Maybe this is not the best week to promote our dear but oh-so-cold city as a fine place to live and do business. But it’s true! A psychological turn-around is happening out there, backed by hard statistics. The “plus” factors of buying a business in Edmonton are now outweighing the negatives. A practical way of betting on a recovery of Northern Alberta’s economy is through the purchase of an existing business. STORY CONTINUES BELOW Many are for sale, mostly energy-related. The owners who started and grew them are ready to retire.  A 2017 EEDC (Edmonton Economic Development Corporation) report suggested 50 per cent of owners of independent companies in Greater Edmonton would sell in the next five years. Hundreds of these businesses, suggests Edmonton business consultant Aroo ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: Calle Mexico predictable but good By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN January 14, 2020

Calle Mexico's tostadas, dressed with the usual ingredients. Photos by GRAHAM HICKS / EDMONTON SUN Calle Mexico South Side 7704 104 St. NW 825-512-5932 Callemexico.ca Delivery: Skipthedishes.com Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Dinner for two, excluding beverages, tip and taxes: Basic, $30, loaded, $60 Food: 3.5 of 5 Suns Ambience: 3.5 of 5 Suns Service: 4 of 5 Suns By GRAHAM HICKS If a restaurant’s food is good, but thoroughly conventional, is it to be praised or criticized? STORY CONTINUES BELOW Visiting the latest and third location of Calle Mexico, I found myself in this very quandary. The menu at this most recent edition of Calle Mexico – in the former Atlantic Trap & Grill on 104 Street a few blocks south of Whyte Avenue – is as stereotypically American-Mexican as every other Mexican fast food joint in town. You have eaten all this stuff since you were a kid. Tacos, tostadas, enchiladas, quesadillas, chips, salsas, nachos, guacamole, shredded por ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: RAM Manufacturing — keeping it local By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, January 11, 2020

Out of Edmonton, Richard Meunier's RAM Elevators and Lifts manufacture and export 1,000 units a year. By GRAHAM HICKS The announcement came out in November. Located in the city’s west end, RAM Elevators and Lifts Manufacturing had been sold. It was not so much the sale of an independent manufacturing company, founded, operated and owned by lifelong Edmontonians Richard Meunier and his partner Sandy Smart, that was of interest. It was about the buyers. Aroon Sequeira and Corey Smith are among the city’s top businesspeople, business leaders and business thinkers. STORY CONTINUES BELOW Sequeira heads up Sequeira Partners, a financial advisory company focused on helping oilfield servicing companies be bought and sold. Smith was the president, CEO and minority partner in oilsands camp operator Noralta Lodge. He steered that company from a value of minus-$50 million (following the 2014/15 oil crash) to its sale in 2018 to former competitor Civeo Canada for $420 milli ... Read the rest of entry »

Smokey Bear’s non-stop surprises By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, January 7, 2020

Smokey Bear head chef and owner Riley Aitken prepared a dish of Gruger Family oyster mushrooms in a yeast sauce on the fire at the restaurant at 8223 104 Street NW in Edmonton, on Friday, Nov. 15, 2019. Photo by Ian Kucerak/PostmediaIan Kucerak / Postmedia Smokey Bear 8223 104 St. NW 780-722-7398 Smokeybearyeg.com (Reservations) No listed take-out service Hours: Tues. to Fri. 5 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Sat., 3 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Sun. 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. Closed Monday Dinner for two, excluding beverages, tip and taxes: Basic, $60, loaded, $160 Food: 4.5 of 5 Suns Ambience: 4 of 5 Suns Service: 4 of 5 Suns By GRAHAM HICKS Never has any other Weekly Dish  Edmonton restaurant experience started with bewildered, moved on to puzzled and ended up at delighted. STORY CONTINUES BELOW On first hearing the name Smokey Bear, I envisioned Montana’s style smoked BBQ, picnic tables and sticky ribs. The clever logo — a silhouette of a b ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Why another oilsands surface mine? By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, January 3, 2020

From left, Kyran Auger, of Keepers of the Water, Bonwen Tucker, Oil Change International, Batul Gulamhusein of Climate Justice Alberta and Nigel Henri Robinson with Beaverhillls Warriors held a press event to call on the Federal Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson to reject the proposal and recommended approval of the Teck Frontier Mine in Northern Alberta on November 22, 2019. Photo by Shaughn Butts / PostmediaShaughn Butts / Postmedia By GRAHAM HICKS Why would the Alberta government be so damned stupid as to propose another surface mine in the oilsands? No matter the science, the optics stink. Yet another vast, oily, tailings pond, huge intrusions into Mother Earth, vast disruptions of the beaver, the fox, the bear and the caribou. All the oilsands stuff that the Rest of Canada hates … and many Albertans are equally uneasy about. The federal Liberal government is committed to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. To that end, its core political support is near 100 per cent in ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: The retreat from fine dining By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, December 31, 2019

The foie gras triangles from Brasserie Bardot, a second restaurant by Violino. By GRAHAM HICKS It’s a head-scratcher. The best of restaurateurs are crying the blues — fewer customers spending less, higher taxes, higher wages. But as they cry, they open more restaurants! Dozens of secondary locations are opening, using the same name or variations. STORY CONTINUES BELOW Padmanadi, Vivo, Pizzeria Rosso (Pizzeria Bianco), Splash Poke, Bodega Tapas, Farrow Sandwiches, Workshop Eatery (Woodshed Burgers),  Café Amore (Amore Pasta), Dorinku Tokyo (Dorinku Osaka), Duchess Bakery, Green Onion Cake Man,  Violino (Brasserie Bardot) and Local Omnivore (Pink Gorilla) have all opened second outlets. And this list barely scratches the surface. Partake was one of 2019’s most successful new restaurants. Pictured here, its charcuterie board. PHOTOS BY GRAHAM HICKS – EDMONTON SUN Nate Box – who opens, closes and converts eateries in the blink ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Is it possible? A real economic recovery for Alberta? By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, December 27, 2019

The Trans Mountain Expansion Project pipe is on the ground near Highway 60 and 628, and will be in the ground before Christmas as an event was held to mark the start of right-of-way pipeline construction just west of Edmonton Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019. Ed Kaiser / Postmedia The great oil crash of 2014/15 sent Alberta’s economy reeling into the ropes. Ever since, as our champ staggered back to its feet, pow! Along would come another blow. Climate change – stop the pipelines! Bash! A provincial NDP government – blame the rich! Spend, spend, spend! Pfffttt! The federal government’s ecological love song – death to the carbon-based economy! Bam! STORY CONTINUES BELOW Heading into the 2020s, the kid is pretty bloodied up and still on its knees. But it’s about to stand up. Its energy is returning. It’s gaining ground, a counter punch here, a jab there, gaining some momentum. The debate over climate change is slowly moving from ... Read the rest of entry »