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By Echo Menges
Knox County has become home to an international corporation with the somewhat recent acquisition of the Sunoco Beline 16 gas station and convenience store. Many locals still refer to the business as a Pic-a- Dilly. And, most recently the business was part of the YesWay corporation.
The Sunoco gas station and store is situated at the intersection of Highway 6 and Highway 15 in central Edina. It easily is located at one of the highest traffic and most visible locations Knox County has to offer.
Today, the business has enticed a new to the area immigrant family from Nepal, they are Nepalese and their native language is Nepalese. For those looking for a regional reference, Mt. Everest is located in Nepal, which is situated between India and China.
Ishwor Pokhrel, 28, and his wife Barsha Gaire, 24, moved to Edina to operate the Sunoco at the beginning of 2021.
“We stayed at California 2016 to 2019. I stayed there to get a Master’s Degree in Business from University California Irvine. After that, I moved to Texas for one year and came to Edina,” said Pokhrel.
Pokhrel’s family has been in the convenience store business since 1990.
“We started from our country, Nepal,” said Pokhrel. “My dad started from there. That’s why I studied business – to continue. My dad is already in retirement. My big brother has already fifty plus stores in Texas, Missouri, California, Illinois.”
Pohkrel and his wife plan to expand as business owners and, like his brothers and sisters, will expand as new owners of many businesses in the U.S. Their plan is to remain in Edina and grow from here.
Pohkrel is one of five children, and has two brothers and two sisters who operate their convenience store businesses from there – Texas. He is the youngest of five.
“I’m an only child,” said Gaire.
The two married in 2017 in Nepal and also in Texas.
“Our dads were good friends and it was arranged,” smiled Pohkrel. “It’s the culture. Our families are very close and we all know each other.”
“We are now becoming citizens here. We love it here,” said Pohkrel.
The couple does get a little homesick sometimes, especially when the annual festival called Diwali comes around, which is celebrated in the fall.
“Here, we like the people,” said Pohkrel.
“They are friendly. They are nice. They are honest. I really like to talk to them,” said Gaire.
The couple has had to get used to quite a few cultural and climate differences from their home country, including Missouri’s cold winters.
“Where I was born, the south, it doesn’t get cold. Where he was born, central, it gets a little bit cold, but not like here,” said Gaire.
Sunoco in Edina is open from 5:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 5:00 a.m. to midnight on Friday and Saturday. They serve hot fried foods including Chester’s Chicken, have a selection of many convenience items and offer both diesel and regular gasoline.
For those looking to say hello to some of Edina’s newest business owners, their names are pronounced Ish-war or I.P. for short, and Bar-sa.
“A lot of people think we are from India. There is a big difference between India and Nepal,” said Gaire.
“Yes, we are Nepalese,” said Pohkrel.