HicksBiz Blog

Hicks' Weekly Dish: A self-guided culinary tour of Jasper By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, February 19, 2019

By GRAHAM HICKS It’s been a tough winter, especially when the bank account has no room for a sun/beach holiday. Non-stop cold, treacherous ice and eternal darkness plays havoc on the emotions. When your spouse curls up tighter than a fetus for days on end … So here’s Plan B. Jasper! It’s still winter … but winter in the mountains can be a tonic. STORY CONTINUES BELOW You don’t have to ski, snowshoe, or take teeth-chattering hikes. You can do nothing but eat!!! Supported by out-of-province tourists in the summer, by skiers from Edmonton in winter, and year-round by local residents, Jasper’s culinary scene is alive and kicking. I pried Maria out of her fetal position, set the Toyota’s controls for Jasper. Off we went for a two-night, three-day self-guided-with-advice Jasper Culinary Tour. The idea was to discover/rediscover some Jasper dining gems – especially the ones the locals consider their own. Prices, incidentally,&nbs ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Alberta's restaurant crisis By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, February 15, 2019

Labour Minister Christina Gray watches worker Shawn Mohammed make her donair after speaking with co-owner Adil Asim of Prime Time Donair & Kabab, to discuss recent changes to Alberta's employment standards in downtown Edmonton, January 23, 2018. Ed Kaiser/PostmediaEd Kaiser Ed Kaiser / Ed Kaiser/Postmedia It won’t go down in Alberta political history as the gaffe on which turned the as-yet-uncalled 2019 provincial election. But, to my mind, the Rachel Notley government pounded some final nails into its coffin this past Tuesday. Labour Minister Christina Gray deliberately snubbed an emergency meeting here in Edmonton, called by the Restaurants Canada association and entitled “Restaurant Realities: Raising Our Voice In Alberta.” Gray was scheduled to speak, alongside opposition party leaders Jason Kenney and Stephen Mandel who did address the restaurant-owner crowd. But Gray’s office informed the organizers the day before that Gray had to attend to a “pres ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: Fast and fresh from Amore Pasta Downtown By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, February 12, 2019

The gleaming open kitchen of Amore Pasta's new downtown location. GRAHAM HICKS/EDMONTON SUNEdmonton Amore Pasta Downtown 10235 – 101 St.  (Sutton Place Hotel lobby – north end) 780-488-421-4450 No reservations Delivery: Skipthedishes.com, DoorDash.com, Foodora.ca 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. (Sat. and Sun. 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.) Dinner for two excluding tip, taxes or beverages: Basic, $22; loaded $42 Food:  4 of 5 Suns Ambience: 4 of 5 Suns Service: 4 of 5 Suns By GRAHAM HICKS The “new” Edmonton food scene is fast upon us. A few steps backwards: It’s retroactive – back to basics like pizza, hamburgers and pasta.  It’s fresher and healthier than fast food, but still about high-volume and speed. There’s no sense of occasion. STORY CONTINUES BELOW A few steps forwards: It’s quality food, not fast-food junk. It’s about a third less-expensive then full-service restaurants. It’s consistent, fast, casual but not ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Flying high at Edmonton International Airport By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, February 8, 2019

Westjet and Air Canada aircraft are seen on the apron at Edmonton International Airport in Nisku, Alberta on Monday, September 18, 2017.Ian Kucerak / Postmedia By GRAHAM HICKS In this “what-have-you-done-for-me-lately” world, we forget that today’s prosperity was built upon courageous decisions made in the past. That tomorrow’s well-being depends on decisions  made today. Ladies and gentlemen, may I present you with astounding proof of past courageous decisions. Edmonton International Airport and  its amazing “Airport City” are dynamic and thriving.  Hundreds of growing industrial and service companies are located here because of the airport’s ever-growing cargo and passenger capabilities. Yesterday’s decisions: In the early ’90s, Edmonton’s aviation sector was a mess. The “International Airport” was barely functional, with next-to-no American or international flights. STORY CONTINUES BELOW ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: Fight back against ‘tip shaming’ By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, February 5, 2019

(Getty Images) By GRAHAM HICKS In January, I wrote about restaurant tipping, moving from appreciation for good service to unacceptable levels through subtle suggestion, guilt and “suggested tip” options. Just a few years ago, tipping was 10 per cent of the bill for average service, 15 per cent for exceptional service. Today, servers expect 15 per cent for average service, up to 25 per cent for exceptional. The column generated a massive response — at least 100 readers joined in with their thoughts. STORY CONTINUES BELOW Ninety per cent agreed that tipping has spun out of control. Albertans were doubly piqued because servers had — much as they downplay it — already received a major raise when the minimum wage jumped from $10 to $15. It’s the mobile payment terminal’s “suggested tip option payments” that stick in most craws. The terminal, used for credit and debit card payments, used to have tip options of 5 per cent, ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: Fight back against ‘tip shaming’ By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, February 5, 2019

(Getty Images) By GRAHAM HICKS In January, I wrote about restaurant tipping, moving from appreciation for good service to unacceptable levels through subtle suggestion, guilt and “suggested tip” options. Just a few years ago, tipping was 10 per cent of the bill for average service, 15 per cent for exceptional service. Today, servers expect 15 per cent for average service, up to 25 per cent for exceptional. The column generated a massive response — at least 100 readers joined in with their thoughts. STORY CONTINUES BELOW Ninety per cent agreed that tipping has spun out of control. Albertans were doubly piqued because servers had — much as they downplay it — already received a major raise when the minimum wage jumped from $10 to $15. It’s the mobile payment terminal’s “suggested tip option payments” that stick in most craws. The terminal, used for credit and debit card payments, used to have tip options of 5 per cent, ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Green spending lunacy By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, February 1, 2019

Solar panels are seen in this 2014 file photo.Mike Hensen / Postmedia By GRAHAM HICKS Elise Stolte writes a civic affairs column in The Edmonton Journal. This past week, occasioned by city hall’s decision to top up a provincial rebate for home solar-panel installations and other energy-conservation measures, she reviewed the labyrinth of provincial and municipal rebates amounting to an enormous 40 per cent subsidy, at least on solar panel installations. Her column concluded that such rebates — affecting 625 of 300,000 properties in Edmonton — have little if any effect on the City of Edmonton’s greenhouse gas  reduction targets. She had a few alternative suggestions — all government dependent. This whole business — not Stolte’s column, but the profligate spending of billions upon billions of taxpayer dollars to allegedly fight global warming with so little results — gets my blood boiling. Governments,  STOP SPENDING OUR MONEY!!!! ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks Weekly Dish: Cajun for Canadians, eh? By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN January 29, 2019

The red beans in sauce, shrimp crole and sausage made for a satisfying jambalaya at Louisiana Purchase North. GRAHAM HICKS/EDMONTON SUNEdmonton Louisiana Purchase North 13503 St. Albert Trail (Christy’s Corner shopping centre) 780-488-3536 Louisianapurchase.ca/north  (Reservations online) Delivery: Skipthedishes.com Mon. to Sat. 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. (1 a.m. Fri. and Sat.) Sundays noon to 10 p.m. Dinner for two excluding tip, taxes or beverages: Basic, $30; loaded $60 Food:  4 of 5 Suns Ambience: 4 of 5 Suns Service: 4 of 5 Suns By GRAHAM HICKS The dining purist will not be amused. But, for my money, Louisiana Purchase does a very good job “Canadianizing” Creole/Cajun/Louisiana cooking – turning down the spicy heat, adjusting famous Cajun dishes for Edmonton palates more accustomed to Ketchup than Tabasco, while not losing the essence of Louisiana cooking. STORY CONTINUES BELOW The cuisine is steeped in history – the Canadian contr ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: To build or not to build more hotels in downtown Edmonton By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, January 25, 2019

A preliminary design of the new hotel development underway in the former Enbridge Tower. The 23-storey building was purchased by Lighthouse Hospitality Management Inc. at the end of April.Edmonton By GRAHAM HICKS Before Christmas, a public relations company invited a bunch of movers and shakers to the Edmonton Convention Centre. On behalf of the Edmonton Economic Development Corporation (EEDC), the PR folks floated a “what if” trial balloon. How about a new, convention-oriented hotel on the Convention Centre’s west side, glued on the existing building as to insulate conventioneers from -25C daytime highs? An intriguing notion – but not for 20 or 30 years. In fact, it’s blatantly obvious why such a hotel is not currently needed. STORY CONTINUES BELOW Between now and 2021, four brand-new ritzy hotels will open in the downtown – expanding the number of quality hotel rooms within walking distance of the Convention Centre by over one-third, from ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: Chinatown Dining Week discovers some Chinese restaurant gems By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, January 22, 2019

A full meal - beef noodles, shrimp, lemongrass chicken and bok choy at Cui Hua Gui Lin Noodle House. GRAHAM HICKS/EDMONTON SUNEdmonton Cui Hua Gui Lin Noodle House 10626 97 St. 780-497-8280 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., closed Mondays Cash and debit only Fuqing Lanzhou Noodles 10824-97 St. 780-760-1110 fuqinglanzhounoodle.com 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., closed Tuesdays Ratings for both restaurants: Food:  4 of 5 Suns Ambience: 3 of 5 Suns Service: 4 of 5 Suns Dinner for two at both restaurants, excluding beverages and tips:  Basic, $20; Loaded, $35 STORY CONTINUES BELOW By GRAHAM HICKS Thank you, organizers of Chinatown Dining Week. I have long searched in Edmonton for authentic Chinese food. Dozens of Chinese-Canadian restaurants still serve the standard deep-fried chicken balls, crispy Szechuan ginger beef and oily chow mein that’s been around for eons. But the real thing (actually “things” – Chinese cuisine is very regional) remains difficult to ... Read the rest of entry »