Kamal Saad, co-owner of Byblos, dies at 65

12/12/2009 12:00 AM

12/12/2009 3:00 AM

He was an accountant, a car salesman and a hairstylist.

But it was as co-owner of Byblos Restaurant, Catering and Imported Grocery that Kamal Saad made his mark on Wichita.

Mr. Saad, who was 65, died Wednesday. He had been hospitalized for the past month, according to his wife, Ilham. His service was Friday; a graveside service will be at 11 a.m. today at Resthaven Cemetery.

Twenty years ago, the Saads opened their small restaurant at 3088 W. 13th St. to bring the homestyle cooking of Lebanon to Wichita.

It was a move forced on them after Mr. Saad had his first kidney transplant and was no longer able physically to operate his beauty salon.

"He used to cut hair, men and women, and he used to have the best color and hair design," his wife said. "They talk about it today."

When he was forced to quit, he asked Ilham Saad, "'What are you going to do? We need an income,' " she said. "I love to cook... so we opened our business."

They started with five tables. "You walked into my restaurant as if you were coming to my house, with me cooking," she said. Mr. Saad was at the cash register, but "it's not just give me your money, eat and leave. We had a connection. We had a conversation" and Mr. Saad was the one to carry on that conversation. "He always loved to talk to people."

The Saads came to Wichita 31 years ago from Minnesota, where Mr. Saad had been an accountant. They were there together only a week: Ilham joined him after their wedding in Lebanon. Mr. Saad's brother moved them to Wichita because of its Lebanese community. Mr. Saad also worked as a car salesman before opening his Adonis Hair Design, Ilham Saad said.

The Saads recently arranged to begin selling their Byblos salad dressing internationally, which had been Mr. Saad's dream. "I know he's watching me up there and he's wishing me well," Ilham Saad said.

She said her husband had undergone a second kidney transplant and had other health problems.

Byblos is closed but Ilham Saad plans to reopen it after the holidays.

Mr. Saad is survived by his wife, their five daughters, grandchildren and brothers. A memorial is with St. George Orthodox Christian Cathedral.

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