HicksBiz Blog

Hicks' Weekly Dish: Mimi's shows the strength of a quality neighbourhood pub By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, July 9, 2019

Mimi's "Al Capone" pizza: eggplant, mozza, ricotta, olives, tomato and lots of basil. Photos by GRAHAM HICKS / EDMONTON SUN Mimi’s 11403-40 Ave. 587-490-8952 Mimispub.com No listed delivery Reservations by phone Mon. to Fri. 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sat./Sun. noon to closing Food:  4 of 5 Suns Ambience: 4 of 5 Suns Service: 4 of 5 Suns Dinner for two, excluding tips, taxes and beverages:  Basic, $25; Loaded, $60 By GRAHAM HICKS The neighbourhood pub is making a come-back. Not those stuffy, grubby, hole-in-the-wall pubs in that once littered the landscape. These new ones are beautiful. Million-dollar treatments , all glass and design, with attractive furniture, countertops, open kitchens, and craft beers on tap. These new “pubs” are family restaurants, operated by experienced hospitality pros. The food is actually more important than the booze. Century Hospitality group led the way, opening Hart’s Table and Grill on 23 Avenue to service deep Riverbend. Cent ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: High-tech sector is finally catching fire BY GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN July 5, 2019

Richard Sutton, a pioneer in artificial intelligence and distinguished research scientist with Google DeepMind and professor of computer science with Amii, speaking during AccelerateAB, an annual technology convention at the Shaw Conference Centre in Edmonton on April 24, 2018.Ed Kaiser / Postmedia, file By GRAHAM HICKS I surrender. I capitulate. For the past decade, I have been skeptical about this high-tech, innovation, disruption, knowledge-based business “eco-system” allegedly being built in Edmonton. Show me the money! Show me the employment! Show me the University of Alberta computer science PhD students staying in Edmonton for career opportunities! Show me the office space leased to these companies! Well, after a decade of incubators, accelerators, tax breaks, government grants, interest-free loans and wheel-spinning, it is finally happening. In the last six months, some $40 million in venture capital from around the world has flowed into early-stage high-tech compan ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: Vivo Ristorante Windermere a people pleaser By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, July 2, 2019

Vivo's sea bream comes with a host of complimentary veggies. Photos by GRAHAM HICKS / EDMONTON SUN Vivo Ristorante & Bar Windermere 6143 Currents Dr. NW 780-244-5920 Vivoristorante.ca Delivery: Skipthedishes.com Reservations:  OpenTable.ca 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. (12:30 a.m. Fri. + Sat.) Food:  4 of 5 Suns Ambience: 4 of 5 Suns Service: 4 of 5 Suns Dinner for two, excluding tips, taxes and beverages:  Basic, $30; Loaded, $80 By GRAHAM HICKS The owners of Vivo Ristorante Windermere call their concept  “modern family dining – with authentic, real food.” Which is right on the money.  This stylish, contemporary restaurant in the city’s deep southwest, across from the Cineplex Odeon Windermere, does the near impossible. It’s all things to all people. Friday evening, the restaurant was full of multi-generational families. A previous visit during happy hour saw an adult crowd scarfing down 97-cent meatballs and $1.50 aranchini  with a ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Big changes in Jasper By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, June 28, 2019

Welcome to Jasper sign is seen on the east entrance to the National Park town. File photoTom Braid / Tom Braid/Edmonton Sun/Postmedia By GRAHAM HICKS Does it matter who actually owns a well-known building, a shopping mall, a condo tower, a hotel? Not really. Usually it’s just Big Money being shuffled around – pension, insurance funds, major developers  – buying and selling to each other. Except for the exceptions. Jasper’s hotel ownership has just gone through its biggest shake-up ever. An entire culture is changing:  Jasper’s Mountain Park Lodges (MPL) chain, owned by the same group of Edmonton families for the past 50 years, has sold controlling interest (60%) in its seven hotels to hospitality company Pursuit. Pursuit, in turn, is a division of a global hotel/hospitality services company known as Viad Corporation, with $1.3 billion in revenues last year. Viad is a public company, traded on the New York Stock Exchange. Pursuit is actually a ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks Weekly Dish: La Bodeguita de Cuba comes up short By GRAHAM HICKS first published EDMONTON SUN, June 25, 2019

Dry cubed pork, undercooked yuca and bland moro rice did not make for a satisfying entree at Bodeguita de Cuba. Photos by GRAHAM HICKS / EDMONTON SUN La Bodeguita de Cuba 11810 87 St. 780-244-0104 labodeguitadecuba.ca Delivery: Skipthedishes.com 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mon. Wed. Thurs. 11:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Fri. 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. Sat. 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sun. Closed Tuesdays Food:  2.5 of 5 Suns Ambience: 3 of 5 Suns Service: 3 of 5 Suns Dinner for two, excluding tips, taxes and beverages:  Basic, $30; Loaded, $60 By GRAHAM HICKS Tasty beginning, excellent ending … and a disaster in between. La Bodeguita de Cuba is a new mom ‘n’ pop restaurant on Alberta Avenue’s restaurant row, some 20 inexpensive eating spots scattered along 118 Avenue from Wayne Gretzky Drive to 105 Street. Last week, the Alberta Avenue Business Association coordinated “Dine The Ave”, a promotion similar to the late-winter Downtown Dining Week, where just about all th ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Epcor river valley solar farm bandwagon? By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, June 21, 2019

A rendering of the proposed solar farm at the E.L. Smith water treatment centre. This view is looking west from a recreational trail across the river.Supplied, Epcor By GRAHAM HICKS This past week, for two long afternoons, I was glued to my computer screen watching (at councilontheweb.edmonton.ca) Edmonton’s city council deal with Epcor’s application to build an enormous solar power farm, right beside its E.L. Smith water treatment plant in the river valley just north of the Henday Drive southwest bridge. The rationale is to provide “sustainable” power for the treatment plant. As a commentator, my own bias is clear. I deeply believe, as do most Edmontonians, that the river valley is a sacred public trust, a multi-kilometre stretch of uninterrupted, beautiful riverside parkland. No other city in the world has been so blessed. Other than essential infrastructure (i.e. water and waste-water services, bridges) no further industrial development should ever be allowed in the riv ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: Perfection, thy name is The Butternut Tree By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, June 18, 2019

The Brome Lake Duck, yet another perfect dish from The Butternut Tree. Photos by GRAHAM HICKS / EDMONTON SUN The Butternut Tree 9707 110 St. (Ledgeview Tower, main floor) 780-760-2271 thebutternuttree.ca Reservations:  Opentable.com No takeout listed Tues. to Sat. 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sun. and Mon. closed Food:  5 of 5 Suns Ambience: 5 of 5 Suns Service: 5 of 5 Suns Dinner for two, excluding tips, taxes and beverages:  Basic, $70; Loaded, $140 By GRAHAM HICKS The Butternut Tree is a gastronomic delight, a feast for the eyes, for the nose, for the mouth. It is fine dining at its very best in this city. While the food itself is always at the epicentre of fine dining, everything else must also be perfect – the décor, the service, the view, the lighting, the rhythm, the plating, the presentation, the wines … Owner/chef Scott Downey has long marched to the sound of his own drum. He left St. Albert at a young age to wander and be educated within the internatio ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: NO to the Epcor solar farm proposal By GRAHAM HICKS, originally published Edmonton Sun, June 14, 2019

Epcor's proposed solar farm at the E. L. Smith water treatment centre, a rendering from the perspective of someone standing on Anthony Henday Drive.Epcor / Supplied By GRAHAM HICKS I like Epcor. I really do. I like the notion of a city-owned company successfully competing in the free market, this year delivering a monstrous $171 million shareholder dividend to the city. Epcor has been so good for the city. A far-sighted decision to become a global water/sewage treatment company has paid off handsomely. At home Epcor provides excellent water (and power transmission) facilities for the City of Edmonton. When Epcor opted for the water route, it bundled up its power-generation assets to create Capital Power. With 700 employees mostly in Edmonton, Capital Power has grown into another city-headquartered corporate powerhouse. So I am even more baffled and dismayed at Epcor’s desire to industrialize and clutter up Edmonton’s pristine river valley with  45,000 solar panels, t ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks`Weekly Dish: Filistix reflects a new Canadian cuisine By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, June 11, 2019

Filistix's Nasi Goreng fried rice is a meal unto itself. Filistix 10621 100 Ave. 780-716-4708 Filistix.ca Facebook 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. (11 p.m. Fri and Sat, 9 p.m. Sun), seven days a week Delivery pending, reservations by phone Food: 4 of 5 Suns Ambience: 3.5 of 5 Suns Service: 4 of 5 Suns Dinner for two: Excluding drinks and tip, basic $30, loaded $50 By GRAHAM HICKS Ariel del Rosario and Roel Canafrance had no grandiose business plan when they started selling Filipino-style barbecue skewers out of a food truck some 10 years ago. Yet Filistix has evolved as a textbook study in growing a hospitality business, culminating in the recent opening of its first sit-down, full-service Filipino/Asian fusion restaurant in the city’s downtown. Del Rosario and Canafrance are cousins — second-generation Filipino-Canadians raised on the excellent Filipino cooking forever emerging from their moms’ and lolas’ (grandmothers) kitchens. They were among the firs ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: High expectations for Canada's cannabis industry By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, June 8, 2019

One of the first cannabis crops at Freedom Cannabis is growing within strictly controlled circumstances. Graham Hicks / Postmedia Don’t get carried away. Despite much wishful thinking, Alberta’s brand-new legalized cannabis industry is NOT going to replace oil and gas. Alberta produces and exports 3.7 million barrels of oil and diluted bitumen PER DAY – at roughly $50 Cdn. per barrel, that’s $185 million PER DAY, or $1.3 billion PER WEEK. The federal government estimates total cannabis retail sales (legal) for all Canada this year will be around $726 million. Even if we double that number,  for spending on wholesale cannabis production, greenhouse construction, legal and accounting services, even if we add on the salaries of some 2,000 cannabis retail store employees and maybe 1,500 cannabis greenhouse workers … it’s the equivalent of – at most – two weeks of provincial oil and gas gross revenue. That said, the emerging cannabi ... Read the rest of entry »