HicksBiz Blog

Acheson, what's Acheson? Greater Edmonton's invisible industrial giant: Hicks on Biz column, originally published Edmonton Sun, February 16, 2013

It’s Greater Edmonton’s invisible industrial giant.The Acheson Industrial Area runs from the city's western boundary (231 St.) almost to Spruce Grove, from south of Hwy 16A all the way north to Hwy 16. That's a space bigger than Mill Woods.Ten thousand acres, 260 companies, 5,400 employees, a natural area, and even a residential acreage sub-division in its heart.Everybody’s heard of Alberta’s Industrial Heartland, 144,000 acres fanning out from Fort Saskatchewan with 6,100 employees working at 40 monstrous oil, natural gas and petrochemical processing plants.Who doesn’t know the Nisku Business Park, next door to Leduc? It's the second biggest “energy park” in North America after Houston, Texas, with 8,000 acres, 600 oilfield-related companies, 8,000 to 10,000 on-site workers.Edmonton itself has some 13,000 acres of industrial land - mostly in the northwest, east/southeast, and central south alongside Gateway Boulevard. It's chopped up into bits and pieces. No one industrial area dominates the city landscape.B ... Read the rest of entry »

Century Grill Comes Up Roses: Weekly Dish originally published in Edmonton Sun February 13, 2013

Century Grill3975 Calgary Trail 780-431-0303 www.centuryhospitality.comFood: 4 of 5 starsAmbience: 3.5 of 5 starsService: 4 of 5 starsDinner for two (without beverages): Basic, $50; Multi-course, $120——Chef Paul Shufelt, who writes in the Edmonton Sun about food creation while I talk about eating it, has reason to be proud.The Century Grill, the flagship of the Century Hospitality restaurant group over which Paul presides, will be 13 years old come April.I have dined at the Century Grill dozens of times, in formal occasions, business luncheons, even grabbing a burger with a beer in the adjoining bar.But this is the first time I have approached the Century Grill with a critical eye.It came up roses, as it has so often in the past.One has to establish context.The Century Grill is not in competition with the top-end Hardware Grill or the Harvest Room, nor with chef-centred bistros.Its target customer would be at home in an Earl’s or Cactus Club – upscale, but not too upscale, something different ... Read the rest of entry »

Pick up trucks top choice in Alberta: Hicks on Biz originally published in Edmonton Sun Sat. Feb. 9

Greenies, transit lovers and urbanites will not like this column.It’s our love affair with bright, shiny, new and big vehicles.In 2012, more new vehicles per capita were sold in northern Alberta (i.e. Red Deer north) than anywhere else in Canada.In 2012, Albertans purchased 239,000 cars and pickup trucks. Of those, about 60%, or 144,000, were sold in northern Alberta.Divided by a regional population (i.e. The Edmonton Sun’s circulation area) of about two million of Alberta’s 3.8 million residents, that’s one new vehicle for every 14 northern Albertans. The national average was one out of 21.About 1.5 million northern Albertans are licensed drivers. So about one in 11 regional drivers bought a new car or pickup last year.Speaking of trucks, of those 239,000 vehicles sold in Alberta, 190,000, or 80%, were trucks!P.S. This is misleading. For illogical reasons, the vehicle industry places all SUVs (big and small), all “cross-over” vehicles and all mini-vans in the “light truck” category. That cute little Honda CR ... Read the rest of entry »

Mack Male and Graham Hicks team up on a new weekly podcast "Mack & Cheese"

This is quite exciting, as in teaching this old dog new tricks. Mack Male and I have kicked off a weekly podcast, "Mack & Cheese." You can listen to the introductory episode at http://www.mackandcheese.ca/2013/02/02/episode-1-introduction/ (For you even older dogs, a "podcast" is like a discussion/interview/conversation on talk radio, except you can listen to it at any time, from any computer. Just go to the website and click on the appropriate button.) I'm intrigued by where Mack & Cheese is going to go. I've always said that Mack's Mastermaq blog is today's "Hicks on Six", that Mack is equally intrigued, enthusiastic and concerned about all things Edmontonian as I was over the 20 years I wrote the five-times-a-week column for The Edmonton Sun. In fact, I pitched Sun Publisher John Caputo on the idea of Mack replacing me at The Sun when I retired as a full-time columnist at the end of 2010, three weeks after my 60th birthday. (I still think Mack should be writing in "my" newsp ... Read the rest of entry »

Private Lives at the Citadel Theatre, love in the moment: Review by Graham Hicks Feb. 8, 2013

Theatre review by Graham Hicks Private Lives, by Noel Coward At the Citadel Theatre in Edmonton, Canada until Feb. 24, 2013 Directed by Bob Baker Starring John Ullyatt and Diana Donnelly There’s a reason Noel Coward’s Private Lives is alive and kicking and powerfully relevant, 82 years after the drama premiered with Coward in the lead role. It’s more than the marvelous English wit and command of the language, the dancing in the dragon’s jaws, the suspension of normalcy, the physical hilarity and the superb construction of the famous British socialite/playwright’s plays. It’s about his surgical dissection, in Private Lives, of the paradox of human love: Of societal norms suggesting a man and a woman (or combinations thereof) ought to meet, fall in love, marry, answer all of each other’s emotional, spiritual and physical needs, raise a family in harmony and wisdom, grow old together, and never fight. Nothing should ever go wrong. Neither husband nor wife will ... Read the rest of entry »

Three Boars Eatery is for those who seek the unusual: Weekly Dish restaurant review, originally published in the Edmonton Sun Feb. 6, 2013

Three Boars Eatery  8424 109 St.             780-757-2600       www.threeboars.ca Food: 4 of 5 stars Ambience: 4 of 5 stars Service: 4 of 5 stars Dinner for two (without beverages): Basic, $30; Multi-course, $60 If you’re looking for a full-blown European dining experience, it’s here at the Three Boars … in a truly Canadian kind of way. It might take imagination, shrinking 109th Street down to an alley for starters, but the Three Boars Eatery could be a hole-in-the-wall in London’s Soho district or the Montparnasse in Paris. It’s tiny — 26 seats upstairs, a 13 stool bar on the main floor — full of quirky personality in an old townhouse a few blocks north of 82nd Avenue in the Bridge District. The décor is wood-plank rustic, contemporary in fixtures and chairs, European in its sense of space (i.e. not much). Where the Canadian comes crashing through is in Ch ... Read the rest of entry »

Alberta's Industrial Heartland is getting there: Hicks on Biz in the Edmonton Sun, Feb. 2, 2013

We take so much for granted. Most urban regions would kill to have an industrial “park” like Alberta’s Industrial Heartland. Canada’s largest petro-chemical and hydrocarbon (oil and natural gas) processing region embraces 582 square kilometres of land covering five municipalities around Fort Saskatchewan, including the still-virgin Edmonton Energy and Technology Park within Edmonton’s northeastern boundaries. Some 40 companies produce products made from oilsand and natural gas feed stocks. It’s all about keeping the jobs and the knowledge and the downstream wealth creation from the raw bitumen, crude oil and natural gas of northern Alberta in Alberta, for Albertans. At least half those companies work at global levels with an estimated $30 billion of investment as of 2012, 7,000 knowledge-based jobs and $77 million a year in municipal taxes alone. Intermunicipal squabbling is usually a quicksand in which regional economic development plans are swallo ... Read the rest of entry »

Royal Pizza, still making it right: Weekly Dish restaurant review originally published in the Edmonton Sun, Jan. 30, 2013

Royal Pizza  10433 80 Ave. (and other locations)             780-432-7720       www.royalpizza.ca  Food: 3.5 of 5 stars Ambience: 3 of 5 stars Service: 3.5 of 5 stars Dinner for two (without beverages): Basic, $20; Multi-course, $40  Graham Hicks             780.707.6379       graham.hicks@hicksbiz.com www.hicksbiz.com @hicksbiz There’s nothing like a familiar advertising jingle to settle the nerves. You’ve heard the Royal Pizza “brand” song a few thousand times on the radio — Royal Pizza, still making it right!! Believe it or not, Royal still … does make it right. This is a restaurant originally opened in Old Strathcona in 1969. It was bought by Mike and Cynthia Hanley in 1995, and since has been carefully franchised with six more locations in Greater Edmonton, each following the letter of ... Read the rest of entry »