'A cheel is a bird that files higher than the others,' said Barkha Limbu Daily, owner of The Cheel restaurant in Thiensville.

She herself has also risen above the rest in being Wisconsin's finalist for the Cornerstone Humanitarian award from the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation for the 2016 Restaurant Neighbor Awards.

Daily received it in part due to her work helping those in Nepal — her home country — impacted by a devastating earthquake in April 2015 between the capital of Kathmandu and the city of Pokhara.

Daily said she first heard of the earthquake at 4 a.m. local time and that it took hours to get ahold of family.

She said while she was waiting to hear from loved ones, she came up with the idea to start the Hope for Nepal campaign.

Daily runs Hope for Nepal out of her restaurant, The Cheel, 105 S. Main St., Thiensville, which serves Nepalese, Burmese and Tibetan food.

She said a customer who worked for the Wisconsin Restaurant Association recommended her as a 'good fit' for the award.

Hope for Nepal has raised more than $18,000 so far, Daily said. About $6,000 went out to help immediate food and water needs with the second phase including 19 1,000-liter water drums.

Remaining funds will be used to help with rebuilding a school, she said.

Her husband, Jesse Daily, spoke to the impact a small amount of American money can make, saying the exchange ratio is about 100:1, which can 'really make a dollar stretch,' he said.

His wife agreed, adding that people can 'eat for a couple days for $1.'

Hope for Nepal is not a 501c3 charity, and Jesse Daily said that's due to the costs.

'We're not 501c3 because of the $800 filing that can help 200 families with food for a month,' he said.

He added it allowed a more 'immediate impact' instead of a 'juggernaut of politics otherwise.'


Jesse Daily said one of the main events held at The Cheel that benefits Hope for Nepal is the Cheel-abration. Last year was the inaugural event, where 20 percent of proceeds of the total revenue earned went to Hope for Nepal.

This year, it's being held July 16.

'It's cultural and informative,' Barkha Limbu Daily said.

Other than the Cheel-abration, St. Paul Catholic Church in Milwaukee is also a 'big supporting donor,' Jesse Daily said.

The campaign is also advertised in the restaurant's menu and through a few other outlets.

Market up

Barkha Limbu Daily came to America in 2003, the first of her family to come to the United States, and chose Wisconsin for educational reasons.

She attended Lakeland College for her undergraduate degree and then Alverno for her master's. She said she researched colleges at Internet cafes in Nepal and made her choices due to her customer service experience with the institutions.

'I wouldn't do it differently,' she said.

According to a news release about the award, in addition to her work for Nepal, Barkha Limbu Daily also 'donates much of her time managing and supporting the local Thiensville Village Market.' The market is volunteer-run, not-for-profit and supports 70 vendors who serve 2,500-3,000 people weekly, according to the release.

Jesse Daily described the market as an 'outdoor shopping mall.' He said it wasn't always as vibrant, and that he and his wife, along with others in the area, worked to make it more of an event.

He said the market was a catalyst to follow up with a restaurant.

Barkha Limbu Daily said she made food to promote the village market and people kept asking her, 'where's your restaurant?'

Cultural cuisine

The Cheel opened in July 2014 in a building that was previously slated for demolition. The couple decided it was a good location and took on the challenge of restoring it with final approvals from the fire inspector given literally minutes before opening — Jesse Daily called it a 'mad dash.'

Their efforts were recognized by the Thiensville Historical Society, according to a news release. Since opening, The Cheel has won 20 statewide awards.

Barkha Limbu Daily said she uses family recipes and also tweaks more classic American dishes such as ribs, steak, and some sandwiches which offer something new but also something familiar for those looking to try her cuisine.

'I definitely didn't grow up eating ribs,' she said.

Barkha Limbu Daily said she has a collection of more than 50 spices in the kitchen, giving many options for those who like everything from hot to mild and sweet. She requested those stopping in to 'always come with an open mind,' adding that since the name cheel means a bird flying higher, 'your flavor profile will go higher.'

'The food she makes changed my life,' her husband said while smiling and taking a bite during the interview.

UPDATE:This story was updated to better reflect Barkha Limbu Daily's status as the Wisconsin finalist for the Cornerstone Humanitarian Award.

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