HicksBiz Blog

Hicks on Biz: Dare to dream the Olympics BY GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN FIRST POSTED: FRIDAY, APRIL 24, 2015

Of course there’s no provincial money … for now. But missing from this anything-can-happen provincial election is vision, looking ahead. Premier Jim Prentice, so preoccupied with cutting spending and raising revenue in the present, has not even hinted at a vision of what Canada’s richest province could become. When you’re up to your bum in alligators, it’s easy to forget you came to drain the swamp. It’s not only Conservatives: The New Democrats’ Rachel Notley, Wildrose leader Brian Jean, Liberal David Swann, Alberta Party’s Greg Clark … nobody is talking about what could be. Everybody forgets. It took dreams before the Commonwealth Games became a reality in 1978, before Universiad 1983, The Worlds in 2001. We dared to dream of an Edmonton Expo 2017, a dream rudely dashed when the financially-stressed feds decided not to participate. Everybody forgets. Huge dreams led to Calgary’s 1988 Olympics, Vancouver’s 2010 Olympics and ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: Continental Treat a classic BY GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN FIRST POSTED: TUESDAY, APRIL 21, 2015

Continental Treat Fine Bistro Food: 3 1/2 Suns Ambience: 4 Suns Service: 3 1/2 Suns 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week Dinner for two, excluding drink and tip: Basic, $50; loaded, $90 It’s a style that never goes out of fashion. Red linen tablecloths, discreet gold-coloured walls, wood panelling, cloth napkins folded just right … even candles in wine bottles, melted wax frozen in time. Continental Treat Fine Bistro is a bit of an oddity, an old-world dining establishment that has basically just been there on the corner of Whyte and 106 Street for an astounding 33 years. It’s never been the talk of the town, never sought the limelight, just sat on that corner serving good (but pricey) Central European dishes with a touch of Polish, seven days a week, to a loyal clientele. Ryszardt and Helena Borowka and their son Sylvester have owned Continental Treat from the beginning. Elizabeth Palmowski has long run the kitchen. The Continental Treat has a dreamy, timel ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Recycling depot is an Edmonton business success story BY GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN FIRST POSTED: FRIDAY, APRIL 17, 2015

Six or seven years ago, I interviewed Rajan Ahluwalia in the ramshackle recycling depot that was Greys Paper Recycling on Yellowhead Trail, listening with skepticism to his paper-making proposal. A recent immigrant, Ahluwalia had perfected a secret process to manufacture office-style paper, he said, from 100% waste office paper and worn-out cotton fibre, using no chemicals. What a dreamer, I said to myself, especially as he launched into a vision of a “small is beautiful” world that he was truly passionate about. Fast-forward. Son of a gun, Rajan, with his son Amit, has done it! The $26 million Greys Paper Recycling Industries plant at the Edmonton Waste Management Centre is built and churning out fresh, white 100% recycled paper. Currently, 85 workers on two shifts produce six to eight tonnes, or 13,200 to 17,600 pounds, of writing paper a day. That much paper is used daily by 8,800 to 11,700 Edmonton office workers. The current plant at the waste management centre has only been ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: Earls still going strong BY GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN FIRST POSTED: TUESDAY, APRIL 14, 2015

Earls Tin Palace 11830 Jasper Ave 780 488 6582 earls.ca Mon/Tues: 11:30 a.m. to midnight Wed/Fri: 11:30 a.m. to 1 a.m. Sat: 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Sun: 11 a.m. to midnight Food: 4 of 5 Suns Ambience: 3.5 of 5 Suns Dinner for two excluding drink and tip: Basic, $50; loaded, $80 As he dug into his rack of BBQ Back Ribs, my son-in-law nailed the secret of Earls Kitchen + Bar: “Mass production,” he said, “done to perfection.” This truly is an amazing chain, starting in Edmonton in 1982 and having since grown to 65 Earls across Canada with a couple in the USA. Earls Tin Palace at Jasper and 119th Street was the chain’s flagship when it first opened in 1986. Here we are, 30 years later, and Earls Tin Palace is still very much at the top of its game. Name another dining establishment (excluding fast-food) of such vintage that has managed to stay so relentlessly contemporary? This review is the result of two visits: On Friday we dined at Earls anonymously, with res ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Edmonton's public transit is DOOMED! BY GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN FIRST POSTED: FRIDAY, APRIL 10, 2015

There is delightful irony here. The City of Edmonton – and most prosperous cities of our size around the globe – are wedded to mass transit and have committed billions upon billions of tax-payer dollars to the same. It is heresy, punishable-by-death heresy, to suggest anything other than mass transit could solve current urban transportation woes. And yet these enlightened, progressive drivers of public policy may prove to be utterly wrong. Even more ironic, the alternatives staring us in the face are at the – gack! - Edmonton Motor Show in the Northlands’ Expo Centre through April 12. The motor show!  You know – that place disliked by all Edmonton city councillors and planners who put together the anti-car, all-out pro-public transit “The Way We Move” Transportation Master Plan in 2009.   Cars that, from the current city transportation planning point-of-view, are clogging up roadways, emitting pollution, causing traffic jams and, choke, bur ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: The Burger’s Priest is just another burger joint BY GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN FIRST POSTED: TUESDAY, APRIL 07, 2015

The Burger’s Priest 10148 109 St. theburgerspriest.com Mon to Wed: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Thurs to Sat: 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Sun: noon to 8 p.m. Food: 3 of 5 Suns Ambience: 2.5 of 5 Suns Service: 3 of 5 Suns Costs: two dressed 'name' burgers and a side of fries: $24 The Burger’s Priest is a triumph of marketing over substance. Honest to goodness, folks, it’s just another burger joint, charging 30% more than the chains for what amounts to a good beef patty and not that much else. You walk in, it’s noisy and busy. You wait 10 minutes to order. You try to find seats in a very basic, crowded, fast-food eating area – all plastic chairs and arbourite tables. Fifteen minutes later, you walk over to the pick-up area and wait another five minutes before your name is called. You eat. You leave the fast-food place, well-located a few doors west of Ricky's All-Day Grill in the downtown shopping strip across the parking lot from the Save-On at Jasper and ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Missteps make for interesting election BY GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN FIRST POSTED: THURSDAY, APRIL 02, 2015

Missteps by the Jim Prentice government have suddenly made this a far more interesting provincial election than was anticipated -- if indeed it is called. "The tepid 2015/16 provincial budget -- a little cut here, a little cut there, maybe nobody will notice -- has hurt Premier Prentice's reputation and "brand". The electorate had expected boldness. We got timidity. Had the finance minister announced a 2% across-the-board spending cut, a 2% provincial sales tax and a 1% hike in corporate income taxes to make up for lost oil revenue, all hell would have broken loose. But the premier might have gained respect. "Ignoring the Alberta Elections Act, which unequivocally says, following the provincial election of April 23, 2012, that elections are to be held between March 1 and May 31 "in the fourth calendar year following the polling day of the most general election," i.e. 2016. Apparently it's all legal, but it shows a government more concerned with getting re-elected than following its own legislat ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: Madison's Grill a hidden gem BY GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN FIRST POSTED: TUESDAY, MARCH 31, 2015

Madison’s Grill Union Bank Inn, 10053 Jasper Avenue 780-401-2222 unionbankinn.com Weekdays: breakfast, lunch and dinner to 10 p.m. Weekends: brunch, dinner Food: 4 of 5 Suns Ambience: 4.5 of 5 Suns Service: 4.5 of 5 Suns Dinner for two (just food): basic, $75; loaded, $110 Madison’s Grill deserves more respect. Here’s this gem of a fine dining restaurant in the heart of the downtown, in the beautiful and historic Union Bank Inn boutique hotel on Jasper Avenue. The waiter pulls out your chair for you, the linen is crisp, the cutlery lined up Downton Abbey style. And yet when Edmontonians think of downtown fine-dining elegance, they default to the Hotel Macdonald’s Harvest Room, The Hardware Grill, Characters and La Ronde in the Chateau Lacombe. They just don’t think of Madison’s. This could be about marketing or the lack thereof. Madison’s seems quite content out of the limelight. Since chef Blair Lebsack left five years ago to ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Budget 2015 a disappointment BY GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN FIRST POSTED: FRIDAY, MARCH 27, 2015

Forgive the disappointment. I had hoped beyond hope that Jim Prentice would have the vision and determination to truly, with this budget, start weaning Alberta off its addiction to resource revenues. I had thought we'd see a financial plan that wouldn't push things off to the dim, distant and unforeseeable future. I had hoped that, despite the collapse in resource revenue from $8.7 billion to an expected $2.9 billion, Thursday's budget speech would be packed with steely resolve to stop spending resource revenue as it comes through the door. I hoped Prentice would announce and then stick to a serious resource revenue savings plan that would, one day, enable the Heritage Trust Fund to absorb these wild gyrations in oil/gas revenues and then release, on an annual basis, a steady, predictable flow of reinvested oil/gas revenue to the provincial treasury. I'm a simple guy when it comes to money management, not the sharpest knife in that particular drawer. But at the end of the day, despite all the t ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: The Bothy's fare won't disappoint BY GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN FIRST POSTED: TUESDAY, MARCH 24, 2015

The Bothy (Downtown) Wine & Whisky Bar 10124 124 St. 780 760 8060 thebothy.ca Open 3 p.m. Closings: Sun.-Mon 9 pm; Tues 10 pm; Wed 11 pm; Thurs 12 midnight; Fri-Sat 2 am Food: 4 of 5 Suns Ambience: 4 of 5 Suns Service: 3.5 of 5 Suns The Bothy Wine & Whisky Bars have been around too long to be seen as a new phenomenon. The original on the south side was one of first pubs in town to introduce seriously good food along with an extensive selection of wines and whiskys. Today, dozens of establishments do the same thing, among them The Glass Monkey, the Fionn MacCool chain, the venerable Rose & Crown and, for wine and light eats, the Wine Room on Jasper Avenue. Bothy proprietor Doug Townshend was happy enough with the original Bothy south side to expand into the The Bothy Downtown in the heart of Edmonton’s latest dining precinct, 124 Street from Jasper Avenue to 108 Avenue. No doubt Townshend fell in love with the space just around the corner where Jas ... Read the rest of entry »
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