by Bruce Boyer
Matthew Pidakala’s decision to open a small business in Kernersville was an easy one. Matthew explored business opportunities in Chapel Hill, Raleigh, Clemmons, High Point, Lexington, and Mocksville before choosing Kernersville to purchase a business. Kernersville provided a centralized location not only in the Triad, but in a solid business district in a steadily growing community. The North Main Street business site is in the middle of food stores, a movie theatre, a hardware store, and family neighborhoods on a busy street. A key factor was that Matthew observed a community that comes together for events such as Spring Folly and one that rallies around worthwhile charitable causes. He noted Kernersville is a community with a high quality of life, with restaurants, a library, YMCA, medical facilities, good schools, and progressive town leadership. As the family prayed for God’s direction, it was his wife, Phebe, who told him the Kernersville business is definitely the one he should purchase.
The business is an Exxon gas station, convenience store, and grill with an extensive menu of tasty food. The sign at the road gives the dba as Low Price Mart and The Grill. Knowing something about Matthew should tell you the name is much more than that. The official corporate name is Mercy & Grace One-Stop, LLC, indicative of Pidakala’s deep Christian faith. Born in India to a Christian Lutheran family, both maternal and paternal grandparents were Lutheran pastors. All of Matthew’s siblings studied in Christian mission schools, as a result of Germany and US outreach mission activities in India. The missionaries “sowed a seed in the hearts of our great grandparents about Jesus and His sacrifice for human mankind.” Matthew is very quick to say that God has blessed his family very richly. He exercises his faith through worship and VBS activities at his home church, River Oaks Community Church, and supports a multitude of charitable ministries through the church. One of his key roles is a “Coffee Bar Ministry“, which greets worshippers and guests for a coffee fellowship that includes a discussion on the sermon for the day. The mission-oriented church has a goal to “reach, build (relationships) and send” people out in service to God. He follows that motto in his own business.
Low Price Mart & The Grill reaches out to its customers. 90% of his customers come into the business nearly every day. He accomplishes this through loyal employees, including Jose Saul Areliano, who has been the chef at Low Price Mart for the past 16 years. Matthew’s criteria for his staff reflect his own values: honesty, dedication, and hard work to create a customer-friendly atmosphere.
Matthew is soft spoken but a man of action. He quickly got involved in the Kernersville community. At the urging of his banker, Sharon Tucker, he joined the Kernersville Chamber of Commerce. His initial attraction to the Chamber was the Eating for Education grant program to help local school teachers. His mom was a school principal in India and many of his uncles, aunts, and siblings are school and University teachers, all of whom spent money out of their pockets to help student learning projects. Even though the restaurant seating area is relatively small, his goal is to raise the funds for at least one teacher grant each year. His restaurant also participates in the Crisis Control Hope Du Jour, and Oktoberfest at Körner’s Folly.
Matthew Pidakala has invested himself in the community he loves. He has served on the Kernersville Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and is one of the most active members in the Kiwanis Club of Kernersville. The club voted him as the 2014 Kiwanian of the Year. In the same year, the Chamber honored him as the 2014 Minority Small Business Person of the Year. At the Chamber he serves on the Education Grant Committee, Business Affairs Committee, and the Ambassadors/Membership committee. His goal is to help other businesses make connections and achieve success through their chamber involvement.
Matthew brings to Kernersville a wealth of worldly experience. He lived in India from 1963-1992, before moving to Saudi Arabia (1992-1998). He has a degree in Engineering with a major in Electronics and Communications. He and his family moved to Montreal, Canada for the period 1998-2007. His dream job was to be a Manufacturing Engineer in the US but the 2008 recession caused him to rethink that plan. He came to the United States thanks to a USCIS Department of Justice program that allows Canadian investors to open a business in the states with 100% of investment dollars earned in Canada. That search resulted in the Pidakalas moving to the Triad and the purchase of Low Price Mart and the Grill.
Family is important to Matthew. As is the custom in India at the time, his marriage to Phebe was an arranged marriage. Matthew feels that was part of God’s plan to bless him with a wonderful spouse and family. Their family is an example of achievement and success. Phebe is a Senior Developer Analyst in Essent Guaranty, Inc. in Winston-Salem. Their daughter, Deepti, graduated from North Carolina State University with a double major — degrees in Biological Sciences and Nutrition Sciences. Deepti is now in her first year of a Doctor of Pharmacy program at Wingate University. Their son, John, completed undergraduate studies at McGill University (Montreal, Canada) and is now pursuing admission to medical school. Over the Christmas holidays the entire family took a 3 week trip to visit his homeland of India.
Matthew has developed many close friendships in Kernersville, particularly Thomas Comer, Richard Phillips, and Bruce Boyer – all people of faith who are involved in the Chamber, Kiwanis Club, and in the community. Matthew enjoys living in the Triad because it is a community where people can express their faith in “word and deed”. “If we give God glory in our lives and put Him first in our life, the rest of the things are secondary; you will feel His presence always. I, and my wife, Phebe, have great faith. Then we will do things for the right reason.”