HicksBiz Blog

Hicks' Weekly Dish: Say Uncle; bringing Grandma's cooking up to date By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN: August 13, 2019

If the beef was less chewy, Say Uncle's stroganoff would have been a winner. Photos by GRAHAM HICKS/ EDMONTON SUN Say Uncle 10184 104 St. 780-540-5369 sayuncle.ca Reservations by phone No listed delivery Mon. to Sun. 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. (earlier on Sundays) Food:  3.5 of 5 Suns Ambience:  3.5 of 5 Suns Service: 3.5 of 5 Suns Dinner for two, excluding beverages, tips and taxes:  Basic, $25; loaded, $40 By GRAHAM HICKS I can see what Say Uncle’s culinary team is trying to get at, but they are not quite there. It’s about creating a dual identity: a comfy restaurant with an extensive craft-beer selection by day, a funky, bright, clean bar with deliberately rustic snack food by night. The food is interesting and quite adventurous. Think of your grandmother’s cooking made contemporary, highlighting root and leafy veggies, lots of fermentation, tenderized cheaper beef cuts, sours and pickles … including pickled eggs like the ones that sat in the big glass ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Rapid Cash innovating in a hurry By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN: August 9, 2019

Bill Eaton puts his Easy Cash transaction kiosk through its paces. Photo by GRAHAM HICKS / EDMONTON SUN By GRAHAM HICKS At your local bottle depot, or coming soon, is an automated payment system for your empties. Sorting and counting bottles remains a manual operation. But the worker keeps track on a screen that you can see. When he or she is done, a credit-card sized piece of plastic is handed to you … in which is embedded your refund. You mosey over to an ATM-like machine, but much bigger with a giant screen. The inserted plastic is read, the amount comes up on the screen. Out pops your cash … and the plastic card stays behind to be wiped and re-used. This is a major innovation in the field of “money processing.” It’s just the start and Edmonton-based Rapid Cash is leading the charge. “Think of what cellphones were capable of 10 years ago,” says Rapid Cash’s president and GM Bill Eaton. “And think of what smartphones can do today. That&rs ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: Oliver & Bonacini brings AAA quality to JW Marriott By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, August 6, 2019

Braven's slow-roasted and smoked short rib is served over the creamiest of polentas. Photos by GRAHAM HICKS / EDMONTON SUN The restaurants of the JW Marriott – Edmonton ICE District 10344-102 St. NW Braven 780-784-8580 Reservations: opentable.ca no listed delivery 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. seven days a week Dinner for two (excluding tips, beverages and taxes): Basic, $100; loaded, $200 Kindred 780-784-8576 Reservations: opentable.ca no listed delivery 6:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. seven days a week Dinner for two (excluding tips, beverages and taxes): Basic, $40; loaded $100 RATINGS – for both restaurants Food:  4.5 of 5 Suns Ambience:  4.5 of 5 Suns Service: 4.5 of 5 Suns By GRAHAM HICKS There’s an enormous attraction to brand new – be it a vehicle, a house, a fancy appliance. When it’s a restaurant, the experience intensifies. Carpets are as clean as bed sheets, windows glisten, cutlery, glasses, furniture and decor are all brand new. The experience ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: The JW Marriott benefits all Edmonton by GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, August 2, 2019

Opening day of the JW Marriott Edmonton ICE District hotel on 102 Street downtown. Photos of the presidential suite and the health club called Archetype on August 1, 2019. Photo by Shaughn Butts / PostmediaShaughn Butts / Postmedia In the JW Marriott Lobby Bar, the ice cubes are infused with flavours … and hand-carved before being dunked into a fancy cocktail. “It elevates the visual appeal,” says bar manager Kyle Stefanato. This is not a column about ice cubes. This is a column about the economic impact the brand-new, just-opened, top-of-the-line  JW Marriott Hotel, its 346 rooms, two signature eateries, two beautiful lounges and the fanciest gym you have ever seen, will have on the downtown ICE District and on the city as a whole. The  hand-carved ice cubes are symbolic, a shining example of what the highest of high-end  hospitality is all about. The most immediate economic impact of the new hotel is the likelihood, the near certainty, that Edmonton wi ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: Where to eat in Edmonton By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN: July 30, 2019

The Brome Lake Duck, yet another perfect dish from The Butternut Tree. Photos by GRAHAM HICKS / EDMONTON SUN It’s an obvious opener, when I am introduced or known to be a restaurant reviewer. “So you write the Sun’s Weekly Dish, eh?  We have a special occasion coming up. Where should we go?” I hate the “it depends” answer. But  it “depends.” Depends on your tastes – do you stick to the tried ‘n’ true? Do you like adventure? A buddy has the most boring tastes imaginable. But he’s a hotdog connoisseur. Depends on your wallet – Are you going to spend $20 or $100 per person? Do you want an extensive wine list, or is “red” or “white” perfectly acceptable? Depends on my memory – What’s most recently reviewed is usually top of mind. Two excellent meals currently loll about my taste buds – at The Butternut Tree in June, the Highlands Golf Course in July. Pampa’s Brazil ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: The world needs more Steve Laut By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN: July 27, 2019

Executive Vice Chairman of Canadian Natural Resources Steve Laut speaks at the TD Securities Calgary Energy Conference in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, July 9, 2019. REUTERS/Todd Korol ORG XMIT: GGG-CAL1O1TODD KOROL / REUTERS Every Canadian teacher could do this country a huge favour by listening to most of a 36-minute podcast from the Arc Energy Research Institute. Entitled “An Interview with Steve Laut”, and found on the internet at  https://www.arcenergyinstitute.com/canadian-natural-resources-an-interview-with-steve-laut/, the podcast is a conversation between Canadian National Resources’ (CNRL) executive vice-chairman Laut and Calgary-based Arc Energy analysts Peter Tertzakian and Jackie Forrest. Tertzakian and Forrest are two of the most knowledgeable and best communicators/analysts in Canada’s energy sector. Laut, who heads up CNRL,  is arguably the most influential executive in Canadian oil and gas. Under Laut’s stewardship, CNRL has ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: Taste of Edmonton satisfies every which way By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN: July 23, 2019

Wishbone's nappa salad is finished with roasted peanuts. Graham Hicks/Edmonton SunEdmonton Taste of Edmonton Festival July 18 to 28, 2019 Capital Plaza (99 Avenue and 108 Street) 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily (9 p.m. July 28) By GRAHAM HICKS After 35 years, the Taste of Edmonton, if you’ll pardon the pun, has become a well oiled machine. The number of grease pits in the food booths and food trucks continues to decline. The food variety is such that not a French fry, burger or pizza slice is to be found on the grounds. Hooray. The popular annual food festival, which started July 18 and runs through Sunday, July 28, is taking full advantage of its temporary Capital Plaza location at 99 Avenue and 108 Street. Capital Plaza is more compact than Churchill Square — currently serving as a storage depot as the new surface LRT inches its way into the downtown. But it is most pleasant, and its defined perimeters have enabled — gasp! — the free and open drinking of (on-site purchased ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Former NAIT boss making his name in furniture By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN July 19, 2019

Former NAIT President Sam Shaw is applying his educational acumen to the furniture business. GRAHAM HICKS/EDMONTON SUN By GRAHAM HICKS The Energizer Bunny is back. Sam Shaw made quite the name for himself and NAIT (Northern Alberta Institute of Technology) when he headed up the educational institution for 13 years, from 1997 to 2010. He was here, there and everywhere – running and modernizing Alberta’s biggest post-secondary school,  chairing the city’s United Way campaign, being honourary colonel of the CFB Edmonton’s 408 Tactical Helicopter Squadron, chairing this committee, that committee, fund-raising for worthy causes. His imprint on the community was such that in 2004, Venture business magazine named him Alberta’s Business Person of the Year. Fast-forward nine years:  Shaw had moved his family to Calgary after his NAIT days, where he was vice president of policy development with the Encana energy company. But he now holds dual-city citizenship, for ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: Highlands Golf Club dining room a hidden gem By GRAHAM H ICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, July 16, 2019

The gorgeous view from the Highlands Golf Club dining room. Photos by GRAHAM HICKS / EDMONTON SUN Highlands Golf Club Dining Room/Spike Lounge 6603 Ada Boulevard 780-474-4211 Highlandsgolfclub.com Reservations by phone no listed delivery Open to the public 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week until late fall Dinner for two, excluding tips, taxes and beverages:  Basic, $25; Loaded, $50 Food:  4.5 of 5 Suns Ambience:  4.5 of 5 Suns Service: 3.5 of 5 Suns By GRAHAM HICKS Pssst. I’m letting you in on an Edmonton dining-out  secret. The best food in the city, taking into account quality, variety, price and view, is at The Highlands Golf Club Dining Room. The list of restaurants with scenic river valley views is distressingly short. Downtown are the Chateau Lacombe’s La Ronde, the Hotel Macdonald patio, the Courtyard by Marriot Riverside Bistro (where the food/service is mediocre at best), and a partial view from The Butternut Tree. On the South Side are some t ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Admirable sentiment, wrong government By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, July 12, 2019

St. Albert Coun. Natalie Joly asked council to look at banning conversion therapy within its municipal boundaries.Shaughn Butts / Postmedia By GRAHAM HICKS A little bit of this, a little bit of that … LET THE PROVINCE DEAL WITH SOCIAL ISSUES Why is St. Albert City Council passing rhetorical, unenforceable bylaws on social issues way outside of its jurisdiction, i.e. a ban on conversion therapy? It’s a fine sentiment . Nobody should be forcibly brainwashed into changing their sexual orientation. But it’s the wrong level of government. In Alberta, municipalities are responsible for maintaining and building civic infrastructure, transit, public safety and providing recreation/leisure facilities for their citizens. The province and the federal government are responsible for social issues. The creation and enforcement of laws dealing with discrimination, human rights (including sexual/gender preference and choice) and ethical decisions – such as legal suicide, or c ... Read the rest of entry »