HANFORD — With a brightly multi-colored parakeet hanging from the ceiling, a pair of intricately painted dolphins on the wall and the noise of a relaxing fountain tucked away in a corner, Gran Cielo Patios is a visual head-turner.
Located at 9150 E. Lacey Blvd., Gran Cielo Patios — which roughly translates to “Great Heaven Patios” — can be easily missed. The strip of road leading to the entrance is unassuming and not a proper welcoming of the hidden gem Gran Cielo Patios is, but inside is a work of treasure.
And inside the roughly 900 square-foot business, a display of Mexican artwork is at the forefront. Pottery and statuary are lined throughout the store with planters, fountains and other decorative pieces.
Ana Rodriguez, owner of Gran Cielo Patios, recently opened her business on Aug. 3 and said it came from a love of the culture and recognizing a void in Hanford.
“I love the traditional Mexican culture and all of what they have as far as items for decoration, home décor and things of that nature,” Rodriguez said. “So I know there’s nothing like that in town and I wanted to have a different business where people can come and not necessarily have to go to Mexico, find a little bit of Mexico here.”
Her piece of Mexico extends outside to a lot filled with more statuary of concrete tables, benches and garden accessories. The pottery, called Talavera, is a Mexican and Spanish pottery tradition, which is all made by hand and hand-painted.
Before opening her own business, Rodriguez, a longtime Hanford resident and 2007 graduate of Hanford High School, was a bookkeeper for a couple different companies, eventually only focusing on Sandoval Diesel, a company owned by her husband, Robert.
After running that for a little while, she decided she wanted her own.
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“I’ve always had big dreams,” Rodriguez said about owning her first business. “I didn’t necessarily know which direction to head, but I think I found the direction I wanted to go into.”
Rodriguez and her husband make several trips to Mexico and over the course of time she wondered how she could bring these items and “have this for our people in our country.” So now every three weeks she makes the seven-hour drive across the border to Rosarito, Mexico, a city of approximately 70,000 people, fills up her trailer and brings new pottery and statuary back to her store.
“It’s not that far from where we get them, but some people don’t have the privilege to come in and out or are afraid to go to Mexico so I figured it would be great to have a business like that,” Rodriguez said.
At times it’s been difficult for her to bring items back across the border, but it hasn’t deterred Rodriguez.
“Because I think this business has so much potential, as far as crossing things over the border it’s a little complicated, but I think it’ll be worth the complications once the business gets going and my traffic starts to speed up,” Rodriguez said.
Gran Cielo Patios is open Mondays-Fridays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and is closed on Sundays.
“I hope once the word gets out and everybody in town knows I’m open, I really hope to relocate and find a bigger place and fill up a whole store somewhere,” Rodriguez said.