Clovis News

Word on the Street: Fresno State's Secret garden

Many people don't know that Fresno State runs a floral business, but the tiny floral lab recently won national honors.

Voters on picked the lab as one the top wedding florists in Central California and the Central Coast.

The floral lab operates out of classroom-sized space on the northeast corner of Chestnut and Barstow avenues. It is staffed by students, who arrange flowers for between 60 and 100 weddings a year, said manager Elisa Valdez.

"It's all word of mouth," she said. "We're not allowed to advertise at all because we're considered basically a nonprofit organization."

Profits go to the Fresno State farm that trains agriculture students.

Fresno State's floral design classes were canceled two years ago due to budget constraints, but students -- including those studying event planning, interior design and other careers -- still want the training, Valdez said.

The only other local floral business honored was Brown Bunny Flowers in Clovis.

Game over

A lack of customers and the slow economy have forced the owners of the Game Preserve to close after 26 years in business in Fresno's Tower District.

Doug Hipkins and his wife, Katrina, marked the last day of business Saturday with a half-off sale.

For years, the store carried board games, role-playing games, kites, puzzles, cards and poker supplies packed into its 1,000 square feet on Olive Avenue, across the street from the Tower Theatre. But when the Valley's economy hit the skids, "customers just stopped spending money and they literally just stopped coming in," Hipkins said.

Hipkins added that games "are a luxury expense" that some customers may give up when money is tight. Online shopping also contributed to the business slowdown, he said.

Cali cuisine

Alicia Gouldin chose a familiar neighborhood to launch her first restaurant.

Three weeks ago, Gouldin opened Cali Mexican Grill at 608 E. Weldon Ave. The space -- formerly Angie's Mexican restaurant -- is across the street from Fresno High School, her alma mater.

"It was actually one of my former teachers who told me that the space was available, and I jumped on it," said the 20-year-old Gouldin, who opened the restaurant with the help of her father.

Trained at a local culinary school, Gouldin has worked at several restaurants preparing everything from Swiss fondue to New York steak.

But her favorite food is Mexican, and that's the focus at Cali.

Gouldin offers traditional dishes, including carne asada tacos, burritos and tortas -- a Mexican style sandwich. Also on the menu are items for students, including nachos, fries, hamburgers and hot wings.

Cali is open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.