HicksBiz Blog

Hicks on Biz: The next 10 years are vitally important for Alberta By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, October 25, 2019


Hicks' Weekly Dish: The wit and wisdom of Chef Shane Chartrand By GRAHAM HICKS first published EDMONTON SUN October 22, 2019

Chef Shane Chartrand, SC Damn Good Food Restaurant at River Cree Resort & Casino, holds a plate of pan-seared strip loin steak, fingerling potatoes and broccolini.Larry Wong / POSTMEDIA NETWORK By GRAHAM HICKS Many years ago, at the opening of the West Edmonton Mall Cactus Club, mall owner (with his family) Nader Ghermezian couldn’t stop singing the praises of a young indigenous chef recently placed in charge of the dining room at the mall’s Fantasyland Hotel. It culminated, a few weeks later, in one of the best multi-course chef’s dinners I have ever eaten. All kinds of wonderful edible things were going on – like meats literally being smoked at the table. The chef was none other than Shane Chartrand, barely out of his ‘20s and already making his mark on the city’s culinary scene. Chef Chartrand’s story was all the more interesting, as he is Cree First Nation, adopted into loving Metis family from Southern Alberta at the age of six. ST ... Read the rest of entry »

Inspired '60s silliness at the Mayfield Dinner Theatre - Review by GRAHAM HICKS, HicksBiz.com

Musical Theatre review Class of '63 Rockin' Reunion Mayfield Dinner Theatre November 5, 2019 to January 26, 2020 Review by GRAHAM HICKS,  HicksBiz.com Tickets: MayfieldTheatre.ca  Don’t expect a plot line, or anything the least bit serious for that matter. Just sit back at the Mayfield Dinner Theatre and drink in all the great (and silly) pop songs of the pre-Beatles ‘60s, laugh at the silliest of costumes from the Fabian/Elvis Presley/Nah Nah Nah days. Those outfits must have been worn by our grandparents when they were high school hipsters of their day!  Okay ... our older sister and brothers! As always with these classic Mayfield pop medleys, the eight musical actors – Mike Zimmerman, Brad Wiebe, Stephanie Pitsiladis, Melanie Piatocha, Kieran Martin Murphy, Pamela Gordon, Simone Denny and particularly possible-rising star Jahlen Barnes – are without peers when it comes to musical fun and interpretation. Likewise, the under-appreciated Mayfield house band, co ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: The Conservatives will not win By GRAHAM HICKS first published EDMONTON SUN October 18, 2019

Conservative Party Leader Andrew Scheer.GEOFF ROBINS / AFP/Getty Images It looks like Andrew Scheer’s Conservatives will not win Monday’s election. A very accurate, independent and unbiased website – 338canada.com – brings together every bit of data gathered during this election and publishes a daily update. For every electoral riding in the country – all 338 of them (hence the website’s name),  338canada.com declares if the riding is, from among the four major political parties and independents, “safe”, “leaning”, “likely” or a “toss-up.” If the Conservatives do not lose a single seat they now hold, AND they take every seat from the other parties that 338canada.com says is leaning or likely to go Conservative, AND they win every seat that 338canada.com says is too close to call, the very best Scheer’s party could do is 127 seats, up from the current 95. Then there’s reality. Outside Alb ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: A tale of two burger joints By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN October 15, 2019

Winning a comparison between the Fox and Woodshed craft burger eateries was Woodshed's "The Woodshed" burger. Photos by GRAHA M HICKS / EDMONTON SUN Woodshed Burgers 10723-124 St. 780-752-2874 thewoodshedyeg.com Food: 4.5 of 5 Suns Ambience: 3.5 of 5 Suns Service: 3 of 5 Suns 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week  (11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 9 p.m. Sundays) Dinner for two, excluding beverages, tips and taxes: Basic. $28; loaded, $52. (No publicized delivery service) Fox Burgers 6423 112 Ave. (Gibbard Block) 780-250-0369 foxburger.ca Food: 3 of 5 Suns Ambience: 4 of 5 Suns Service: 4 of 5 Suns Monday to Sunday, 5 p.m. to 11 p.m., closed Tuesdays Dinner for two, excluding beverages, tips and taxes: Basic. $36; loaded, $50 STORY CONTINUES BELOW (No publicized delivery service) By GRAHAM HICKS I liked this idea, a comparison of Edmonton’s two new “craft burger” restaurants. Two well-known chef/entrepreneurs are behind two new, updated, ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: The divisions in Canada grow ever deeper this election By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN October 10, 2019

Federal party leaders ready for debate: Green Party leader Elizabeth May, Liberal leader Justin Trudeau, Conservative leader Andrew Scheer, People's Party of Canada leader Maxime Bernier, Bloc Québécois leader Yves-Francois Blanchet and NDP leader Jagmeet Singh.POOL / REUTERS By GRAHAM HICKS As this uncomfortable federal election stumbles its way to Oct. 21, there’s early-warning signs of irreconcilable differences between provinces, between provinces and the federal government, between Canadians of different age groups, between regions within the country. All over Canada’s approach to climate change. As Calgary Herald columnist Don Braid so gloomily and accurately pointed out, four of the five federal party leaders have cast their lot, supporting policies that mean the end of oil and gas. The worst-case outcome of the federal election would be a Liberal minority government, kept in power in coalition with either the NDP or the Greens, both deeply opp ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: The demise of the Hardware Grill By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN October 8, 2019

Larry Stewart in the remodeled Hardware Grill in Edmonton in this file photo.John Lucas / Edmonton Journal BY GRAHAM HICKS All things must pass. The best restaurants start as exciting culinary adventures. They flourish, lasting much longer than the trendy, all-flash-no-substance eateries. But, eventually, the founders tire.  Other restaurants catch up. Competition increases. The biggest factor will always be the local economy. When it morphs – as Edmonton has done – from buoyancy to stubborn stagnancy, customers rein in their former free-spending ways. STORY CONTINUES BELOW All of the above would have played into the unexpected shutdown of Edmonton’s long-acclaimed Hardware Grill last month. But the biggest culprit, as detailed below,  was debt. The Hardware Grill closure sent shock waves through the city’s hospitality sector. This wasn’t just any restaurant. For 23 years, owners Larry and Melinda Stewart’s pride and ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Poland a big surprise By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN October 4, 2019

The historic Old Town of Warsaw, Poland, was rebuilt after being destroyed in the Second World War. GRAHAM HICKS...EDMONTON SUNEdmonton By GRAHAM HICKS Before leaving on a September-long extended holiday in Poland – both as tourist and as a volunteer English teacher – I had no idea what shape the Central European country would be in. Three decades after the fall of communism, Poland has had 27 years of steady economic growth, an average 6% annual growth in family incomes. Yet our primordial impressions of Poland are still from Iron Curtain days: Of grime, grimness, hopelessness, poverty, garbage piled up in the streets, brown-outs and black-outs. Nothing could be further from the truth! Today, Poland is Europe’s biggest and best secret. As the ninth biggest country (by size) in Europe, with about the same population as Canada (38 million), it has fully emerged  from its shell-shocked recent history – the devastation of the Nazi occupation of the Second World War, with ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Get rid of the middle man By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN September 6, 2019

Chris LaBossiere, CEO of Yardstick. It was a rather jolly meeting — the Yellowhead Brewery event-pub quite packed, the beer flowing. All kinds of technology/biz folks were renewing acquaintances. The occasion was the release of a report commissioned by the Downtown Business Association, called Accelerating Tech in Downtown Edmonton. The get together had a right to its jolliness. As was detailed in a recent Hicks on Biz column, Edmonton’s technology/artificial intelligence/machine learning sector has, at long last, reached critical mass. Enough technology-based companies are now making enough money to significantly grow in scope and employment. That said, there’s an annoying Catch 22 to technology-innovation  business development. Every time something starts up, governments (or government-funded agencies) feel an overwhelming need to throw a whack of money at it. STORY CONTINUES BELOW Agencies are allegedly set up to assist these hard-working entre ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: Mild and tepid from Dookbaeki Korean By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN September 3, 2019

The seafood pancake - basically green onion cake served pizza-style - was greasy but tasty. Dookbaeki 2872 Calgary Trail dookbaeki.ca 587-524-4336 No reservations No listed delivery service Dinner for two (not including tip, beverages or taxes) basic, $30, loaded $55 Food: 2.5 of 5 Suns Ambience: 2.5 of 5 Suns Service: 3 of 5 Suns By GRAHAM HICKS There are many excellent Korean restaurants in Edmonton. STORY CONTINUES BELOW Dookbaeki – sadly – is not among them. Beside Calgary Trail, north of the Edmonton Home Fair commercial strip, south of the Melting Pot and Japanese Village South, Dookbaeki specializes in traditional Korean soups served in heavy, black, stone bowls that keep their contents wondrously hot for a long time. This would be even better if the soup within had some flavour, if some thought had gone into Dookbaeki’s décor, if the restaurant did not need A) a good scrubbing and B) a new paint job/makeover. I’m sure there ar ... Read the rest of entry »