BELPRE - After being closed about five years with "caution" tape around the gasoline pumps, the Belpre Mart has reopened with a new owner.
The former Marathon station at Main Street and U.S. 50/Ohio 7 just off of the Memorial Bridge reopened April 1 after a month of preparations by new owner Sunil Joshi, who moved to the area from New Jersey where he worked in casinos.
"I was looking online for a business I could buy and run in a safe area and this store came up," Joshi said.
Sunil Joshi, owner of the Belpre Mart at Main Street and U.S. 50/Ohio 7, stands in front of the store, which opened on April 1 as a convenience store and gasoline station after being closed about five years. (Photo by Jolene Craig)
"The first thing I did was look at the crime data and it is absolutely non-existent here," Joshi said. "In coming here, I couldn't have met a nicer bunch of people."
Mayor Mike Lorentz said he is pleased to see the old store reopened four years of being empty.
"If we can support these good, legitimate businesses with our traffic flow, it means we are doing well as a community," Lorentz said. "I just hope it does well for them."
He continued that the people he has met in the past month as he prepared the business to open, are polite and nice.
"Everyone I have met has taken a few minutes to talk," Joshi said. "I am very much impressed with the kindness and politeness I have seen."
While the store has been open only a little more than a week, Joshi said business is picking up.
"Every day a few more people come in," he said. "Traffic coming off the bridge and the four-lane is very, very good.
"I think the problem is that people have been so used to the store being closed, they don't realize we are open and once they realize we are here, they will stop in," he said.
Lorentz said the location of the store in a prime traffic flow area is nice for gasoline stations.
"It is a great location and when the old store was open it was always busy," the mayor said. "I don't know why it ever closed, but now that it is reopened, I think it will do well."
While Joshi is here with is brother-in-law, their families remain in New Jersey until the business is more stable.
"We hope this business does well and if it does, we will move our families here," Joshi said. "I really hope to stay here and bring my family."