HicksBiz Blog

Hicks' Weekly Dish: A look at two sandwich shops - Subway and Farrow BY GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN FIRST POSTED: TUESDAY, OCTOBER 07, 2014

Farrow Sandwiches 8422-109 St. 780-757-4160 farrowsandwiches.ca 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., closed Tuesdays Food: 3.5 of 5 Suns Ambience: 3.5 of 5 Suns Service: 3 of 5 Suns Subway Sandwiches and Salads 100 outlets in Metropolitan Edmonton Food: 3.5 of 5 Suns Ambience: not applicable Service: 3.5 of 5 Suns Anybody can make a sandwich. Bread on the bottom, bread on top, stuff inbetween … no muss, no fuss, no cutlery, no plates. But to make a great sandwich, there’s the rub. The Weekly Dish looks at two excellent sandwich shops. One is unique, gourmet if you like, the other has 100 outlets in Metro Edmonton. The giant, of course, is the amazing Subway franchise, the biggest chain in the world with 42,000 Subways world-wide. The other is Farrow Sandwiches, a cute little shop tucked in beside (and physically linked) to the Three Boars restaurant on 109 Street north of Whyte Avenue. Farrow is all about original sandwiches named by somebody with a vivid imagin ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on biz: Edmonton success story involves armoured vehicles, flak jackets BY GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN FIRST POSTED: FRIDAY, OCTOBER 03, 2014

There’s an expectation in writing a business column that every story should be centred on a corporate entity with an organizational structure, a CEO, employees, present and future products and/or services. That every business worth its salt should be formally structured, its primary purpose being the creation of new wealth, especially for its shareholders. The problem with this default approach is it overlooks the hundreds, perhaps thousands, of entrepreneurially aware, highly talented individuals in Metro Edmonton who choose not to work within corporate structures, individuals whose career paths are convoluted, unique, specialized and general all at the same time.  M5 Special Services Ltd. shares its world headquarters in the garage of a Meadowlark bungalow with two armoured vehicles and a small machine shop. M5 is Don Wright – president, head researcher, millwright and bottle-washer. M5 ain’t nobody else but Don. From a childhood fascination for World War II military wirel ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: Value personified at Ruth's Chris BY GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN FIRST POSTED: TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 30, 2014

Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse 9990 Jasper Ave. 780 990 0123 ruthchrisalberta.ca 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays - dinner only Food: 4 of 5 Suns Ambience: 4 of 5 Suns Service: 4 of 5 Suns Dinner for two: Date Night Wednesdays - $99; Sunday Traditional menu, $78 Stop the presses! Hold the phone! Big news breaking! A multi-course, great steak dinner can be had at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse without breaking the bank. Would you believe $50 per person with wine, $39 without? You just have to pick your times and go for the “value” meals, “Date Night” for two on Wednesdays, or the Sunday Night Traditional. Ruth’s Chris, at Jasper and 100 Street, is high-end. Ruth’s Chris is America’s most famous top-of-the-line steakhouse chain. The décor is classical — high ceilings, beautiful globe lighting, fancy thick curtains, carpeting everywhere. A noisy, all glass/tile/blond-wood bistro, this is not. Normally, ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks On Biz: There is no transportation crisis for Alberta oil BY GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN FIRST POSTED: FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 26, 2014

If there's a looming transportation crisis for Alberta oil, why have Suncor and its partners committed $10 billion to the new Fort Hills oilsands project? Why is Exxon-Imperial Oil full speed ahead on its $8.9 billion expansion of Kearl Lake, even as Phase I is just getting up to speed? Let's not be stupid. Nobody puts that kind of money into any business, without 100% certainty the product will get to market. Yet we keep hearing, time after time, that without new pipelines west (Northern Gateway) and south (Keystone XL), much of Alberta's oil will be trapped with no way out. Here's the reality, as explained to me by a few veterans of the oil transport business. Oil transport is a three-legged stool - existing pipelines, future pipelines and rail. You wouldn't want to sit on this stool, because it's constantly shifting. Each leg can be growing, or shrinking, or staying put. Today, about 3.5 million barrels of oil (1.9 million from the oilsands) moves out of Alberta every day, just about all ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: Daravara lacks consistency BY GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN FIRST POSTED: TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 23, 2014

Daravara 10713 124 St. 587-520-4980 (Facebook) Weekdays: 11:30 a.m. to late Weekends: 11 a.m. to late Sunday brunch Closed Mondays Food: 3.5 of 5 Suns Ambience: 4 of 5 Suns Service: 3.5 of 5 Suns   Dinner for two, just food — basic $20, loaded $30 It’s an intriguing notion. Of how much more is a chef capable, before getting too far ahead of the customers? Can a chef continue to improve … or is she/he already at the limits of her/his own creativity and proficiency? Daravara is a new-ish (since February) self-described neighbourhood pub on the exploding 124 Street restaurant scene. But it’s more than a pub, especially in the food department. Chef and partner Shane Loiselle has impressive credentials. He’s devised a comfort food menu that includes a chef’s touch on traditional pub grub, plus unusual dishes such as a BBQ kale salad, beans on toast, and confit duck taco. The problem on our visit was an inconsistency ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: Daravara lacks consistency BY GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN FIRST POSTED: TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 23, 2014

Daravara 10713 124 St. 587-520-4980 (Facebook) Weekdays: 11:30 a.m. to late Weekends: 11 a.m. to late Sunday brunch Closed Mondays Food: 3.5 of 5 Suns Ambience: 4 of 5 Suns Service: 3.5 of 5 Suns   Dinner for two, just food — basic $20, loaded $30 It’s an intriguing notion. Of how much more is a chef capable, before getting too far ahead of the customers? Can a chef continue to improve … or is she/he already at the limits of her/his own creativity and proficiency? Daravara is a new-ish (since February) self-described neighbourhood pub on the exploding 124 Street restaurant scene. But it’s more than a pub, especially in the food department. Chef and partner Shane Loiselle has impressive credentials. He’s devised a comfort food menu that includes a chef’s touch on traditional pub grub, plus unusual dishes such as a BBQ kale salad, beans on toast, and confit duck taco. The problem on our visit was an inconsistency ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Strength among weakness in Edmonton's corporate sector BY GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN FIRST POSTED: FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 19, 2014

Alberta Venture Magazine’s September edition contains its annual Top 250 list of Alberta’s biggest companies and, as usual, it makes for fascinating comparisons. The list demonstrates, more than ever, how Edmonton in the ‘50s and ’60s allowed the corporate side of the resource industry sector that surrounds us to slip away to Calgary. Fifty-nine of of the top 100 companies within Venture Magazine’s Top 250 companies, (as measured by gross 2013 revenues), are in the resource industries sector. Just two biggies, Weatherford Canada (61st, $1.3 billion) and North American Energy Partners (95th, $470 million) are based in Edmonton. The rest – all 57 of the Top 100, including nine of the top 10 - are in Calgary. Of the top 100 companies, 15 are headquartered in Edmonton, 81 in Calgary, about a 6:1 ratio. Strip out resource industry companies, however, and you have 15 in Edmonton and 26 in Calgary, offering a more comforting 1.8:1 ratio. It’s long been recogni ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: Rostizado a great addition to Edmonton's dining scene BY GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN FIRST POSTED: TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 16, 2014

Rostizado (by Tres Carnales) 10359 104 Street NW 780-761-0911 www.rostizado.com Weekdays, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Weekends, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Closed Sundays and holidays Reservations – only for groups of eight or more Food: 4 of 5 Suns Ambiance: 4 of 5 Suns Service: 4 of 5 Suns Dinner for two, just food – basic $30, loaded $60 For a concrete, shining example of the Edmonton renaissance, look no further than Rostizado (by Tres Carnales). The Mexican-inspired restaurant is the brainchild of three talented, well-travelled, 30-something Edmontonians. Within the “healthy Mexican” food trend started by the Chipotle chain, it’s a unique food concept and experience, as far removed from cheap ground meat/salsa tacos as fine steak from hamburger. Rostizado is housed within the 100-year-old Mercer Warehouse, a brainchild of father/son social entrepreneurs Kelly and Devin Pope, who after renovating character buildings, carefully choose and cultivate l ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Edmonton is crawling to the top of Canadian cities BY GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN FIRST POSTED: FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 12, 2014

There’s a battle plan. Edmonton is galloping along at the head of Canada’s urban growth pack – every statistic available is telling us that. Behind the scenes, there’s a unified urban growth strategy that is logical to the extreme. The unity is all about leadership.  The City of Edmonton, Edmonton Economic Development (EED) – the city’s economic development agency), Edmonton Airports and the Chamber of Commerce all have seen leadership renewal. The new leaders are singing off the same song sheet. The CEOs of Edmonton’s major corporations – ATB Financial, Canadian Western Bank, Capital Power, Clark Builders, Enbridge, EPCOR, Katz Group, PCL, Servus, Stantec, TELUS and others – understand what’s needed and are pitching in. The post-secondary institutions are solidly on board. And if Jim Prentice’s advisers – Edmonton’s political stars Steve Mandel, Mike Percy and Patricia Misutka – are any indication, the new ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: Day-old baklava?! Say it ain't so BY GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN FIRST POSTED: TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 09, 2014

La Shish Taouk 244 Mayfield Common 780-489-1313 www.lashish.ca   Food: 3 of 5 Suns Ambience: 3 of 5 Suns Service: 2.5 of 5 Suns   Dinner for two, just food – basic $20, loaded $55 In the changing ethnic face of Edmonton, La Shish Taouk is an interesting leader. The restaurant began its life as a sit-down eatery where families from Lebanon in particular and the Arabic world in general would bring the clan for a special night out. But eating habits have evolved – we eat out more often, or pick up take-out for dinner. Eating out is far more casual, not as meaningful, and we want to be in-and-out within a half hour. La Shish Taouk is one of the first full-service (i.e. more than donairs) ethnic eateries to understand the trend. There’s now four Shish Taouk restaurants (west end, downtown, Whyte Avenue and Mill Woods). All specialize in inexpensive, fast-produced Lebanese/Middle Eastern food. The mother ship – the original La Shish Taouk a ... Read the rest of entry »