HicksBiz Blog

Hicks on Biz: Our weak dollar is a good thing BY GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN FIRST POSTED: FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 21, 2014

This week, the Canadian dollar was worth 88 cents American. This time a year ago, 96 cents. Two years ago, $1 even. Three years ago, 97 cents Six years ago, 79 cents Twelve years ago, a bone-chilling 62 cents. The exchange rate: Big deal!  When the Canadian dollar was down, all it did for you ‘n’ I was make out-of-country holidays and imported veggies more expensive.  A low Canadian dollar makes us feel psychologically poorer, comparing salaries with American cousins. With an 80 cent dollar, you might both make $60,000 a year, but yours is only worth $48,000 in American dollars. Indirectly – in the taxes we pay, in mortgage interest rates – the exchange rate is a big deal. RELATED Bank of Canada holds rates steady Canada’s inflation rate jumps in October Hicks on Biz: Oil price drop not all bad It’s a big deal if you work for a company that exports goods and/or services, or if your company imports components for its products. Ex ... Read the rest of entry »


HALO Bar & Bistro Lobby, Renaissance Edmonton Airport Hotel Edmonton International Airport (terminal north end) 780 890 1420 http://flyeia.com/node/291246 6 a.m. to midnight, seven days a week Food: 4 of 5 Suns Ambience: 4 of 5 Suns Service: 4 of 5 Suns Dinner for two, just food – basic $50, loaded $110 The meal had been most pleasant at HALO, the posh new restaurant in the ultra-stylish new Renaissance Edmonton Airport Hotel. The unpleasantness came upon leaving the outdoor hotel surface parking lot (no shelter, no plug-ins) tucked in beside the International Airport. Three-and-a-half-hours on a Friday evening, 7 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., parking price … $24.50! Not the best impression to leave with those making the 30-minute-plus trek from the city to the airport, specifically to try a new dining room. The HALO (an aviation acronym for “high altitude, low oxygen”) Bar & Bistro is compelling for several reasons. Much has been written about ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish - St. Albert restaurant maintains fine-dining reputation BY GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN FIRST POSTED: TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 11, 2014

The River House 8 Mission Ave., St. Albert 780-458-2232 riverhousedining.net Food: 4 of 5 Suns Ambience: 3.5 of 5 Suns Service: 4 of 5 Suns   11 a.m. – 2 p.m., 5 p.m. – 9 p.m. Weekends open at 10 a.m. Closed Mondays   Dinner for two, just food – basic $70, loaded $110       Something is vaguely Gothic about The River House in St. Albert, housed within a neo-Victorian building done up with porches and spires beside the Sturgeon River.   Inside it’s all classic dark wood, ruby-red walls and mini-chandeliers: An echo of those dark shag-carpeted ‘70s steakhouses, the Addams Family or a high-end pub, you take your pick.   The River House has built a reputation for fine dining. Still fondly remembered as one of the best Hotel Mac executive chefs ever, Willie White opened The River House a good 10 years ago, coming back home after a stint in some sun-drenched country.   Having been ... Read the rest of entry »


Yes, we live in a frozen paradise, peace, security, freedom, opportunity, all that jazz. But let that not stop us from belly-aching. Today, I'm joining the old guys who meet at McDonald's every morning to take advantage of the seniors' discount and the nearby bathroom. (Public washrooms and the lack thereof, there's a complaint for another day. Thanks, Timmie's and McDonald's, for (usually) not locking your washroom doors.) Hicks on Biz is going to complain! Mostly, it's about airlines, banks and utility companies -- nickel + diming us to death. Death by a million wounds! Frog-in-the-boiling-water death! Airlines: Need we say more? The latest new charge, $25 a bag, is resulting in two tons of carry-on per passenger. Wars are breaking out over overhead-bin capacity. Airlines now list surcharge, after surcharge, after surcharge: NAV, airline insurance, fuel surcharge, "peak travel premium" and the dreaded airport improvement tax. At the same time, economy class services are slowly and ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: Loma House a vegetarian jewel BY GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN FIRST POSTED: TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 04, 2014

Loma House Vegetarian Express 9142 23 Avenue 780-466-8391 lomahousevegexpress.com 11:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m, noon on Saturdays. Closed Tuesdays and Sundays Food: 4 of 5 Suns Ambience: 3 of 5 Suns Service: 3 of 5 Suns Graham Hicks 780-707-6379 graham.hicks@hicksbiz.com www.hicksbiz.com @hicksonsix Here’s a little jewel of a restaurant. Without a hint of marketing, Loma House Vegetarian Express on 23 Avenue (around the corner from Costco South Edmonton) has been serving delightfully fresh, delicate and colourful vegetarian dishes for some five years. Who knew? It’s small — about 24 seats, very clean, casual and attractive in a well-designed strip mall. One wall is a floor-to-ceiling cooler for frozen vegetarian food, both brand-made and in-house. But it’s the Asian-fusion vegetarian cuisine coming out of the kitchen that counts. At Loma House, whoever’s in the kitchen has the lightest of touches. There’s no grease! Veggies ar ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Face of agriculture changing BY GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN FIRST POSTED: FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 07, 2014

With Farmfair International and the Canadian Finals Rodeo (CFR) happening at Northlands Park, this past week has been a celebration of our societal agricultural roots. Farmfair brings together the livestock segment of Alberta agriculture. Purebred breeders and animal breed associations gather to socialize, discuss business opportunities and pick up ideas improve their breeds to produce more and better meat and milk. The rodeo represents a series of niche sports based on our country-dwellers' inextricable link to horses and cattle. Northlands Park is governed as a not-for-profit "agricultural society". While its activities now reach far beyond agriculture, its original mandate and many current activities still exist to serve the northern Alberta farming community. It's an exciting, and challenging, time for all three organizations. With the new downtown arena opening in 2016, Northlands is now in the process of reviewing and renewing its community mandate. Farmfair has to reflect the changing ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: Fine dining for ATCO Edmonton Sun Christmas Charity Auction BY GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN FIRST POSTED: TUESDAY, OCTOBER 28, 2014

“As you give, so shall you receive” still holds high truth, even in this age besotted with self-gratification as the path to happiness. None of the dozens of restaurants donating dinners, time and culinary talents to the annual ATCO Edmonton Sun Christmas Charity Auction are doing so for marketing purposes. Were that the case, the expense would best be re-directed to advertising. They are offering dining experiences to the auction, being held next week in the Edmonton Sun on Nov. 4, 5 and 6, because … it’s the right thing to do. My job, then, is to be a salesman of the highest order. I want you, fellow Edmontonians, to bid top dollar for these dining experiences, not only for the Christmas Bureau, Sign of Hope, United Way and the Stollery Children’s Hospital, but to make our donors feel their efforts were worthwhile. I also encourage you to patronize these establishments. Faced with a choice of a restaurant that contributes to the community, and one that does n ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Oil price drop not all bad BY GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN FIRST POSTED: FRIDAY, OCTOBER 31, 2014

Why the drop in world oil prices will ultimately benefit Alberta.   The price of world oil — hovering on either side of $100 US a barrel since 2011 — has dramatically slipped in the past few weeks, down to $82 a barrel and still dropping. The anti-fossil-fuel crusaders will dance with glee – see, see, the world doesn’t need you, you big bad Earth-destroyers! The media loves those commentators who, sagely rubbing their goatees, predict gloom and doom. They have about the same credibility as the goatee-stroking political scientists who never get it right come voting day. The analysts I respect — Peter Terzakian, Michael Dunn, Ron Hiebert, Andrew Leach, Todd Hirsch — say quite the opposite. The only serious pain in this situation will be less money coming into the provincial treasury than was planned from oil and gas royalties, and that will be partially offset in any case. The sum total of all the moving parts of the oil patch? Lower oil prices will ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: Lazia Redefined menu deliciously creative BY GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN FIRST POSTED: TUESDAY, OCTOBER 14, 2014

Lazia 10200 102 Ave. (main floor, Edmonton City Centre West) 780-990-0188 Lazia.ca Food: 4 of 5 suns Ambience: 3 of 5 suns Service: 3.5 of 5 suns Dinner for two, excluding drink, taxes and tip: Basic, $30, loaded $50 Restaurateur Richard Lim (Lazia, Wildflower Grill, East) presents himself as an “aw shucks” kinda guy, scratching his head about the restaurant industry, professing ignorance of modern trends. Don’t let him fool you. This is one sharp hospitality mind that’s always several steps ahead, not behind, the competition. Lim’s one of the few in the trade to fully understand why good restaurants “redefine” themselves every few years, to stay fresh, lively and modern. He opened the near-iconic Asian fusion Lazia, believe it or not, 12 years ago. Its menu has been overhauled four or five times since. Lim, general manager Jim Dymond and head chef Jimmy Ng invited Edmonton’s food bloggers and reviewers to a panoramic culinary to ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Banding together for the cause BY GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN FIRST POSTED: SATURDAY, OCTOBER 11, 2014

The challenge is just how far there is to go.   The mayors and bureaucrats from the 24 municipalities making up Metro Edmonton’s Capital Region Board (CRB) could slap on another’s backs and congratulate themselves at the recent CRB closed-door “Economic Development Summit.” They’d come a long way from the day former Edmonton mayor Stephen Mandel stormed out of planning session of its toothless predecessor, from the time ex-premier Ed Stelmach told the mayors either they got their regional act together, or the province would do it for them. Then the first speaker up poured a Niagara Falls of cold water on the parade. The speaker was the only Canadian on the global-elite 28-person “Site Selectors’ Guild” — the world’s top consultants when it comes to multi-national corporations deciding where and when to build new facilities. He’s the Canadian-based expert, and Greater Edmonton wasn’t even on his radar. He’d ... Read the rest of entry »