If you been in Kettel’s 76 convenience store more than twice, you’re family. If you’ve shared it, more than likely you’ll be greeted warmly with your first name by one of the welcoming members of the Khela (Kay-la) family.
The second and third generations of Indian immigrants, the family consists of Singh and his wife Ramesh, their older son and daughter-in-law Hap and Raman, and their younger son Sonny. Everybody works the cash registers and Sonny is in charge of the full-service car wash and detailing business.
“Indian families are close families so we’ve worked together,” Singh said.
“The main thing is keeping everybody busy and together,” Hap added.
Gregarious employee James Jackson is part of the extended family, too, often working the early shift.
The Khelas put in long hours in an all-for-one and one-for-all effort with store/gas station hours from 5:30 a.m.-10:30 p.m. Monday-Friday; 7 a.m.-10:30 p.m. Saturdays; and 7 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Sundays.
After getting a tip from a relative the store was for sale by longtime owner Gary Kettel, the Khelas bought the business in 2013 and moved from Moses Lake.
“We were just looking for another business and Sequim was at the top of the list for location,” Hap said.
“Irrigation Festival was our first day to take over … and it went pretty well for the first day,” Singh laughed.
“We got Kettel’s from a good family and we’re just improving on that,” Hap said, with Singh adding, “They still come around and help us and we very much appreciate them.”
“We see the business as a one-stop store with household goods, automotive supplies and even a pet section. We’re a little grocery store and we strive for convenience,” Hap said.
The usual convenience store sundries include chilled non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages, hot coffee drinks, all matter of snacks, frozen treats, canned goods, packaged meats/sandwiches and plus in-a-pinch items like batteries, ear buds, USB cables and vehicle battery terminals, plus the requisite Seahawks regalia.
This spring, the Khelas invested in two state-of-the-art computerized cash registers and debit/credit card readers, also putting in a larger countertop.
The Khelas, bilingual in Punjabi and English, take pride in their homemade food for breakfast, lunch and dinner, offering daily specials, including Indian cuisine.
“We have chicken or pork curry Mondays and Fridays and we hand-make everything here,” Hap said. “Tuesdays it’s tacos, Wednesdays Angus burgers or chicken sandwiches, Thursdays pulled pork, plus fried chicken, chicken on a stick and tenders almost every day.”
Portions are generous, especially the pulled pork sandwich that stands at least 3 inches thick and is so tender it melts in your mouth. Indian samosas, beef, chicken or turkey mixed with vegetables encased in a tortilla wrap, are spicy weekend specials and a historic staple in India, Singh said.
A hand up, not a handout
The Khela family is generous, too, in small and big ways, from feeding a hungry individual asking for leftovers to the larger Sequim community. First starting with just Thanksgiving, the family now puts on dinners by donation also at Christmas, New Year’s and Easter.
“We have donations for the free dinners for charities so it’s not just us by ourselves,” Hap said. “A lot of people actually need some food on those days. The first Thanksgiving we served 60 people and this Easter we gave away more than 275 meals. Nobody should be hungry.”
The store is a collection point for the Sequim Food Bank and participates in toy drives and other community support drives. The Khelas recently partnered with Serenity House in its new socks drive.
“Community is family — we get help from the community and we help the community as well — to pay it forward,” Hap said.
Sun Taxi &Delivery
With the prospect of Sun Taxi closing late last year upon the owner’s move, the Khelas purchased it to keep a taxi in Sequim.
“We saw the need to improve it and there was a need for a cab in town. Between Sequim and Port Angeles, we will have a total of four cabs,” Hap said, stressing the 24/7 service is much more professional and customer-oriented than it was. “We strive to provide small-town, customer-friendly, safe, affordable and reliable transportation,” he said.
The drivers will deliver fast food, prescription medication, small grocery orders and small packages. The taxi offers rides to medical appointments, errands, school or college, and service to airports, buses and cruise ships. For a small fee, they’ll come boost your dead battery or bring you gas when you need it.
Whether it’s a homemade meal, a gallon of milk for supper or a latte on the run, Kettel’s and the Khela family welcome you to their one-stop shop.