Phoenecia owner Hussein Khazaal dies, restaurant closed TFN

That photo is above a note on the door of the popular restaurant Phoenecia at Alki, telling this sad story: Owner Hussein Khazaal has died unexpectedly, and the restaurant is closed until further notice. This is a transcription of the unsigned note from his family – it is dated August 8th (yesterday):

To our customers:

This morning, West Seattle lost one of its finest residents.

Hussein Khazaal, my father and best friend, passed away in his sleep of natural causes.

While this loss is devastating to our family, we know how much he meant to the community as well.

Words cannot express the sorrow in our hearts in losing someone to whom we were so close. He was far too young to die but we are grateful he went peacefully.

Dad lived for his family, which included his patrons. The restaurant along, with his wife, children and grandchildren, were everything to him.

Anyone who ever had the pleasure of knowing him can vouch for me when I say, he never had a selfish moment in his life. You, our dearest customers, were what made him happy. The looks on your faces as he took you to paradise with his culinary masterpieces brought him great pride and joy. We thank you for indulging him and letting him “prepare something special” for you.

We are not sure where we will go from here. There is a possibility we will reopen Phoenecia. We are confident we can prepare the food; we are just not sure how we have it in us to run the business he built without him by our side or if we can provide the same magical atmosphere our beloved Hussein did. Our decision will take time, thought and discussion.

Regardless of the fate of Phoenecia, we know Hussein will live on. Whenever one person performs an act of kindness to another, Hussein lives on. Wherever there is generosity, Hussein lives on. Wherever there is beauty in the simplest of things, Hussein lives on.

A memorial will be held within the week. We have not yet determined the location. However, if you would like to attend, you may e-mail me at and I will send you information regarding the time and place.

Lastly, if you are wondering if there is anything you can do for us … there is. If you have any warm thoughts or stories you would like to share with us about Hussein or Phoenecia, please e-mail them to me at Your words will be of great comfort to our family.

We will be in touch soon regarding our decision as to the fate of Phoenecia.

Till then we thank you so much for your patronage over the years, as did Hussein. We consider you part of our family. Thank you.

Just this summer, Seattle Metropolitan magazine hailed his restaurant as one of the Best of 2009. Mr. Khazaal first opened in The Junction in the ’70s, and also operated in Queen Anne before bringing Phoenecia back to West Seattle at its current Alki location.

He was 63 years old. (Thanks to those who called and e-mailed this afternoon to let us know about Mr. Khazaal’s death.) MONDAY NOTE: Here’s our followup story with funeral/memorial information.

92 Replies to "Phoenecia owner Hussein Khazaal dies, restaurant closed TFN"

  • Teri August 9, 2009 (5:08 pm)

    How very very sad. I was just there and wrote a post for my wine blog about Hussein. He will be missed by many.

  • Tiara Johnson Andress August 9, 2009 (5:17 pm)

    We are friends of the family and understand how great of a loss this is to our community. Our heart and prayers go out to his wife, children, and grandchildren. Please let me know if there’s anything we can do.

    Shawn and Tiara Andress
    and family

  • Toni G August 9, 2009 (5:39 pm)

    My sincere condolences. I loved taking visitors there to have something special. Everyone loved the place and he was the most charming and generous host you could ever wish for. He will be missed.

  • JanS August 9, 2009 (5:41 pm)

    This is sooo very sad…our community has lost a most wonderful person, a most wonderfully talented man :(

  • Bonnie Main August 9, 2009 (5:48 pm)

    My husband and I are so sorry to hear about the passing of Hussein. We loved the food … and we LOVED how special he made us feel. You could tell he enjoyed what he did – Making people feel good with delicious cuisine and with warm conversation he always made time for. He always had a smile on his face, even when he was extremely busy!

    Please know that we will miss Hussein. Our thoughts are with you and your family. Bonnie & Richard

  • PDieter August 9, 2009 (6:08 pm)

    So sad, he will be missed by so many of us. Our go-to place with out of town visitors as Hussein was a great representation of Seattle. Such good food and great personality. If he has to leave us I’m so glad he went so peacefully, he deserves that at least.

    I imagine he will do well at the gates of Heaven looking at each who enter and saying, “welcome my friend you must be hungry. Let me make you something special; I think you need…”

    quite the loss for westseattle.

  • grr August 9, 2009 (6:09 pm)

    Our sadness for this loss is simply unspeakable. We were just there friday night. As anyone who’s read my posts knows..Phoenicia was our favorite place of all.


  • Paul and Jenell Smart August 9, 2009 (6:20 pm)

    We are so very sorry to hear of your loss. This is our favorite restaurant in West Seattle. The family is so warm and the food is wonderful. He will be lost. Your entire family are in our thoughts on this very sad day.

  • CheriBerri August 9, 2009 (6:29 pm)

    His Daughter Sonja is our real estate agent and always raved about him we never made it in to meet him and for that my heart is sad….. My heart goes out to Sonja and the rest of her family.

  • AlkiMom August 9, 2009 (6:50 pm)

    This is a big loss to the community, as Hussein brought many visitors to Alki with his wonderful restaurant and his welcoming smile. He went out of his way to make every visitor feel like family. He took great pride in his delicious food, sharing recipes when asked and always emphasizing the healthful benefits of fresh food. My family and friends will miss him.

  • Joan August 9, 2009 (7:01 pm)

    Very sad. My friend and I were served by him and the restaurant had a very warm, friendly atmosphere. He will be missed.

  • Michael & Carrie August 9, 2009 (7:03 pm)

    As per our usual custom, we were on the way to our “favorite” restaurant last night with out of town friends…where else would one take them?
    We, as most of the writers above, are shocked by the sudden loss of Hussein. To say that he made you feel special is an understatement. As the regulars know, we **never** ordered from the menu, always relied on those words that I can still hear clearly…”I will make you something special”. And…in the last few times, Hussein actually listened to me and brought me smaller portions! Who can forget the delight in his eyes as he approached with the torch for the coup de gras “creme brulee”.
    The Phoenicia was Hussein and Hussein was Phoenicia. It is going to take a long while before I can walk past it without fondly remembering that wave and smile which was always there.
    Our deepest condolences to Sonja and Nadia, and your Mom on this sad occasion.

  • miws August 9, 2009 (7:11 pm)

    How incredibly shocking and sad. :(


    I had never made it to his Alki location for a meal, but did visit his Junction location, where Mashiko is IIRC, one or two times. This would be over 29 years ago. He had visited the restaurant that I was a busboy at the time, at Rosellini’s “Other Place”, Downtown.


    My subsequent visit to Phoenicia, had to be at least several months later, and Hussien rememebred me, and from where! So, it was definitely not a surprise, to read of all the opinions of his guests that post here on WSB, and it’s Forum, how kind, warmhearted, and respected of a gentleman Hussien was.


    My sincerest condolences to Hussien’s family, and friends.



  • KateMcA August 9, 2009 (7:24 pm)

    There are a few people in this world that you just instantly know are good and kind. Hussein made our trips to Phoenicia special with his delicious food and warm company. He will be missed- my condolences to his family.

  • AD August 9, 2009 (8:05 pm)

    Rest in peace…

  • Karen August 9, 2009 (8:07 pm)

    Sending Sonja and family a prayer for strength as they journey through their grief.

  • livingonthebeach August 9, 2009 (8:08 pm)

    We were sadden to hear of his passing. We too have been there numerous times and always warmly greeted with that beautiful accent. His heart was always over-flowing and we seemed to always leave with fresh bread from the kitchen or some special receipe he wanted us to have.

    Our thoughts and prayers to his family.

  • Elizabeth Carpenter August 9, 2009 (8:17 pm)

    I loved Hussein’s wonderful restaurant, spirit & amazing food. My birthday was August 8th and I had a number of delicious birthday meals there. He was so warm and kind and, indeed, made us “special” dishes not on the menu.

    I so hope the family does decided to continue the family tradition and keep Phoenicia going.

    Rest in Peace, Hussein
    With love ~ Elizabeth

  • Jo August 9, 2009 (8:40 pm)

    Last year during the snow, a friend and I wanted to have dinner there sometime close to my Dec. 24th birthday. Since everyone was basically snowbound, I called Phoenecia to see if he was open. Hussein answered the phone but said he wasn’t open, as his employees couldn’t get in to work. I told him I didn’t need to have my birthday dinner exactly on my birthday and I’d call in a couple of days to check in.
    That gentle, sweet man offered to cook a birthday dinner for my friend and I, even though the restaurant wasn’t officially open. We agreed to wait, and did indeed go in a couple of weeks later after things had cleared up abit.
    Hussein and his beautiful smile will be missed.
    Jo Ofsthus

  • Brent August 9, 2009 (8:45 pm)

    We had dinner there just last month, which was wonderful. Hussein was always very attentive and gracious. Always friendly. One couldn’t help but like him. He was a truly kind person. He will be missed.

  • Grazer August 9, 2009 (8:58 pm)

    While shopping in PCC on day for something to help cure my winter cold Hussein came over and gave me the recipe for his delicious soup. Kale, kale and more kale… just remember the lemon. It’s the soup I now make whenever my family isn’t feeling their best. He sat there in the produce department at wrote it out. He was charming, sincere and always caring. I am so sorry for the family’s loss.

  • coffee August 9, 2009 (9:01 pm)

    I am so sorry for the family, friends and customers who enjoyed this wonderful person and the restaurant.

  • Donna August 9, 2009 (9:04 pm)

    My husband and I took our twins there for their first restaurant meal (they were in infant carriers). Hussein made a point of coming over and bringing a congratulatory bottle of wine to our table to take with us for when we took drink it. He made us feel very special.

    We made many trips to his restaurant and each time was a special because of Hussein. You never came prepared to look at the menu – he always asked you what you like and ordered for you. And you were better for off that way.

    This is loss for the family obviously and a loss for the community. He touched many lives and will be missed.

  • Pat August 9, 2009 (9:15 pm)

    I first went to dinner at Hussein’s in October 1978 when Phoenecia was in the junction. Ever since, a visit to Phoenecia was like going home. Hussein always remembered me and made something very very good, very very special.

    I’ve enjoyed introducing my friends to Hussein over the years, as much to meet Hussein as for the delicious food. I am heartbroken. It was an honor to know him and he will be missed.

  • so sorry August 9, 2009 (9:22 pm)

    Bless him, how very sad to go so early in life. But so wonderful to go so peacefully. Condolences to the family I am sure it is a great loss.

  • transplantella August 9, 2009 (9:30 pm)


  • DM August 9, 2009 (9:40 pm)

    Hussein was a beautiful man. So full of life. One of those people you loved having around you. I’m so sorry for the family. I can’t imagine the loss they are feeling right now. I hope they are not filled with worry about the restaurant and that they can simply mourn at this time. Their community is with them.

  • dq August 9, 2009 (10:45 pm)

    you know he is smiling at all of us right now

  • Bonnie August 9, 2009 (10:48 pm)

    So sad. I only went once and it was astounding. So sorry for the family.

  • grr August 9, 2009 (10:55 pm)

    the outpouring of love here is just soooo wonderful :)))

  • Beth Davis August 9, 2009 (11:03 pm)

    My family is in shock. I heard the sad news via my daughter Gwen, who now ives in Maui. I’m sure the shockwaves are traveling round this globe today, for the loss of our beloved Hussein is just such a shattering blow.

    Our sincere condolences to the Khazaal family. We remember so many happy times at Phoenica, enjoying delicious food with family and guests as Hussein’s family ate and visited at a back table. We remember how delighted he was at the birth of his grandchildren. How proud he was of his daughters.

    We, too, enjoyed the “something special” he always prepared for us. The first time we came in so many years ago, he told us not to bother with the menu. It was for the tourists. “Let me prepare something special just for you!” We did, and we never consulted a menu again! Hussein made magic in his kitchen! We taught our friends to rely on his judgment, as well.

    Hussein was, indeed, a remarkable person. The consummate host, he made each of us feel like his most honored guest. We always felt pampered, with course after course, each one more delicious than the last, brought to our table with pride. We often left with a bottle of wine pressed in the hand to take home.

    I remember how surprised I was one day when he came out with a special no sugar dessert just for me. I don’t know how he remembered that I was a diabetic, but I do remember that it always bothered him that I couldn’t eat his desserts. So observant and so thoughtful. Yes, the consummate host!

    We have no idea how many times we ate at Phoenicia over the years, nor how many guests we introduced to Hussein. But we know there came to be a large circle of relatives and friends who once introduced, kept coming back!

    He always made time for a little visit. We heard his stock tips (which we found not to be very useful!). He asked for ours. We sometimes talked politics a little, and asked his views on the problems of the Middle East. He always made us feel that he was glad to see us.

    I grieve for his family, for all of us West Seattleites who have lost a beloved member of our community, but most especially for my daughter who came to regard Hussein as a dear, favorite uncle. She could not come “home” without stopping by to say hello.

    The lovely letter written by his family eloquently expresses who Hussein was. There is now a hole in the fabric of our community. He will be missed…but never forgotten. He has touched so many. Surely he is resting in Paradise tonight, the twinkling brown eyes and warm smile we all know, lighting up his face, regaling the angels with his stories.

    Go with God, Hussein.

  • CountingCoup August 9, 2009 (11:08 pm)

    Awwwwww so sorry, a huge devastating impact to Alki and West Seattle.

    RIP and my best wishes and condolences to the family…

  • Trick August 9, 2009 (11:22 pm)

    Awhile back I had a birthday party for about 15 of us.
    He asked me what my favorite dish was, I replied “Paella”.
    He supplied us with two of the largest platters of Paella that I’ve ever seen.
    I lived on it for at least 4 days.
    Kind, Gentle and giving Hussein was…..
    He was such a sincere gentleman.
    My thoughts and condolences for his family.

  • alkiguy August 9, 2009 (11:40 pm)

    Unfortunately I never got the chance to order off-menu, but I always loved what I tried nonetheless, especially his mushroom dish. I had just taken my parents there when they visited a few weeks back, and had been looking forward to many more. I will always treasure my memories of my evenings there because it wasn’t just about the food, but about being made to feel at home.

  • Breanna August 10, 2009 (12:33 am)

    Hussein was an incredible person with a tremoundous heart. My family loved his restaurant and he was the one whose love for making everyone happy and comfortable was a gift. His family will be in our prayers.

  • Jackie August 10, 2009 (12:57 am)

    Oh, so very sorry to hear this! I’ve been a fan since the QA days. It was comforting to walk on Alki and wave at Hussein through the window; to know he was there, with his big welcome and warm kitchen. Much love to the family.

  • Auburn August 10, 2009 (4:18 am)

    Hussein was my former boss, a father figure, and an amazing human being. Growing up as a friend of his daughters, you became adopted family, a common sentiment among everyone else whose lives he touched.

    I was raised a vegetarian and can remember to this day the first day I decided to try eating meat. I had been working at Phoenecia for a few months and kept hearing guests leaving remarking “That was one of the best meals of my life”, and I knew I was missing out on something wonderful. He took careful steps to cook small pieces in recipes he knew I would like and sent me on a road to culinary self discovery. He sent home care packages for my roommate and I because he knew poor college students couldn’t eat well on our budgets.

    Hussein could talk to anyone, not because it was his business, but because it was his way of life. His family was his pride and joy and to know them is to know why. He will be severely missed but I have no doubt that the world has another guardian angel in our midst.

  • 56bricks August 10, 2009 (6:22 am)

    He will be missed by all of us. Transplantella – No words were better spoken.

  • rw August 10, 2009 (6:53 am)

    The first time I visited Phoenicia 13 or 14 years ago, I knew imemdiately that this was the very highest definition of a family restaurant — that every person who entered was included in Hussein’s extended family. I might not eat at Phoenicia for a few years, but if I ran into Hussein at Metropolitan or PCC I was always greeted like a close relative. My wife and I extend our warmest wishes to Hussein’s wonderful family.

  • TW August 10, 2009 (7:01 am)

    A great loss. I cannot remember how many “special” dishes he’s made for my family and me over the years. And if you ever need to make someone feel special he was the man to help. Boy or boy could he fawn over wives, visiting in-laws, friends etc. He was a treasure amd I’ll miss him dearly.

  • JasonG August 10, 2009 (7:32 am)

    Great man, great family, great restaurant. Our love to the Khazaals. Hussein was one in a million.

  • dylan August 10, 2009 (7:44 am)

    One of my fondest restaurant memories originates from Hussein’s generosity of spirit. I was meeting some family friends on a Tuesday night and we were running late. We arrived just as Hussein was closing the door for night. Under normal circumstances, we would have been out of luck. But, with Hussein, is seems you always feel lucky. He proceeded to open the door for us, turned on the lights, lit up the stove and single-handedly cooked a meal for three starving people. By the end of the night, he sat down with us talking about our family, his family, and his restaurant. As we departed he insisted on giving us a bottle of wine for our company. Hussein you were a true gentlemen. Thank you.

  • JackieS August 10, 2009 (7:49 am)

    My condolences to your family. I visited the restauraunt in July for my nieces wedding reception. Your Father made us all feel like family and we will talk about that evening forever. He loved what he did and anyone who has ever visited new what a kind man he was.

  • Jimmy & Stacey Fuda August 10, 2009 (8:24 am)

    We are so sorry to hear this! Sonja and family, if there is ANYTHING you need, please give Jimmy a call. You are in our thoughts and prayers.

  • Ms. J.-S. August 10, 2009 (8:54 am)

    My deepest sympathy to your family.

  • Art & Sharon Woodbury August 10, 2009 (9:15 am)

    Please accept our deepest sympathy for the loss of Hussein Khazaal, irreplaceable husband, father, friend. If the son is a reflection of the father, then Hussein was a very special person. We believe this is so. He walks with you even now, William.

  • MAS August 10, 2009 (9:36 am)

    I’m usually made uncomfortable when a restaurateur is makes conversation, but not so with Hussein. I always felt genuinely welcome and loved everything he put in the plate. What a wonderful man.

  • Joan August 10, 2009 (10:06 am)

    (crying) RIP Chef Hussein!

    OH oh oh, there was no one else that could make one feel like long lost family member and celebrity like you could, with just a little guilt thrown in for coming by less often than you wanted.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for all those good times, for the bottomless love and laughter with which you shared and inspired us. Your enormous legacy of generosity lives on.


  • Wyn Bielaska August 10, 2009 (10:25 am)

    Hussein was probably the kindest and most generous person that I have ever met. He made me feel like extended family………and that was a privilage because it was so clear that he adored his family. He will be missed so much by many people…..he made everyone feel “very special”…and his food was the best food that I have tasted in Seattle. He would cook with the best ingredients…..safron…..preserved lemons…..the best balsemic……..I often had the best dreams when I went to bed at night after one of Hussein’s fabulous meals……..I would like to extend my heartfelt condolances to Inaam, Nadia, Sonya and William. You were so lucky to be the most important part of Hussein’s life!

  • Elsie Gatcomb August 10, 2009 (11:30 am)

    Inaam, William, Sonya and Nadja, I feel as though I have lost a member of my family. What a sad thing to get the message this morning when I opened my e-mail. My heart is heavy but also happy when I remember all the wonderful times I have had with Hussein and the family. There was never a time that Hussein did not welcome me with open arms when I walked in the door. I loved him dearly and miss him even though I am no longer in Seattle. My love and condolences to all of you. Elsie

  • Cindi August 10, 2009 (11:32 am)

    Hussein gave so many of us so much joy. I cannot forget the wonderful treatment he gave me and my friends on my 40th birthday, and all the other special occasions before and since. We didn’t just lose a great chef and neighbor, we lost a friend. My deepest condolences to his family, for he made us a part of your family too.

  • GD August 10, 2009 (11:45 am)

    We have been enjoying Hussein’s hospitality since his early days in the Junction. Not having ever been to his home, I can’t imagine it is any different than his restaurant as far as his warm greeting and graciousness is concerned. It is always a treat to see him at the farmers market in the Junction on Sundays as he is buying some wonderful fresh produce.
    Hussein was a great chef, a wonderful person, and he will be greatly missed in West Seattle.
    Our hearts go out to the family and thank you for writing the beautiful tribute for your father.

  • Ange August 10, 2009 (1:47 pm)

    Hussein was my boss, and also one of most influential people I have met. It hurts me so much writing this, because it is so hard letting go of someone so genuinely caring, kind, and wonderful and special to me. Every day I worked at the restaurant I would observe Hussein, and the way he made people so happy. The thing is he would be so delighted making people happy to, and that’s why he loved his restaurant. It is rare to meet people so dedicated about caring for everyone around them, and that is what he did. Hussein and every person in his family made me feel like I was actually a part of their family. He would tell people I was his daughter, and cared for me like I was too. I have never in my life found a place of work where I felt so loved and a part, like the Khazaals’ made me feel. I have never even seen or met such a family as them, who cared about each other so deeply, loved each other so immensely, and treated each other with such respect. I’m blessed to have had the opportunity to know such a great person; it is so heartbreaking that he is gone. I miss him tremendously already, and I know everyone who knew and loved him feels the same. The love I have for him and his family is unexplainable. There will always be a special place in my heart for Hussein.

  • Jonathan Fleener August 10, 2009 (2:22 pm)

    To the family, the friends, and Patrons of Mr. Hussein,

    It is with regret that I extend my sincere sympathies for your loss. I cannot fathom the depths of sadness that is currently being felt among family and friends. I can say to the Hussein’s’ beloved clientele, albeit I have only had the extreme pleasure of dinning in the Phoenicia just once, I was witness to a loving spirit who with a few questions, could truly nourish ones’ soul. The food that Hussein prescribed for me that evening was truly alive within itself. It both nurtured and held me. It revealed a culinary kindness, which compelled me to linger with Hussein as I left for the evening. I had to hold his hand for a moment, if only to say to him that he did touch me with his understand of what I didn’t know I wanted. I was thankful for that moment by knowing it was something to carry with me. I also know that I am one of many whom have had this privilege. We have all been very fortunate.

    Thank you, Hussein Khazaal. Please now be in peace for it is your turn to be accommodated so dearly.

    Jonathan Fleener
    Raleigh, NC.

  • Joel August 10, 2009 (2:22 pm)

    How very sad. We first met Hussein in 2000 as our landlord, living in the house the Genevieve Nichols had given to him and Inaam, on Brandon and 41st. Cara and I knew that he was a sweet and thoughtful man.

    Over the years we came to his family weddings and he congratulated us on our marriage and with the birth of our first child.

    His joy and special touch came out in his food, his generosity, and his care for others. Our thoughts go out to the Khazaals and their memories of this special friend of our family.

    Joel and Cara

  • Doug August 10, 2009 (3:56 pm)

    I still remember the first time my partner and I dined at Phoenicia about 5 years ago. We had just moved into our new home (built in 1917) when we came across an old edition of the Seattle Times from the 1970’s. It contained a feature article on Hussein and his love of food. We took it down to the restaurant with us that night. Hussein loved it, and took it around the every table to show “how thin he used to be.” From that moment on, he took wonderful care of us anytime we stopped in.

    His phrase “something very special” will live on.

  • Jackie Aron August 10, 2009 (4:57 pm)

    Whenever we visit from Chicago to our daughter, son-in-law and 4 year old granddaughter in West Seattle, we can’t wait to eat at Phoenicia. This past 4th of July weekend, we had a special celebration there when my son and his girlfriend joined us from Indiana and announced their engagement! Hussein worked his magic to make our meal special, including making dairy-free, gluten-free items for my granddaughter. We will miss him greatly.
    Jackie & Dennis

  • Kristin August 10, 2009 (5:32 pm)

    Would have liked to have tried the restaurant, was discouraged to try though by a young man who came to the window when I was looking at the menu, didn’t want me bringing my 2yo in ‘lots of glass’ he said. Lived behind the restaurant for the last few years, sorry to everyone who will miss it. If I’d experienced the owner ‘greeting’ me it sounds like I’d have had a different experience.

  • Helen August 10, 2009 (6:49 pm)

    I read about Hussein’s passing and just choked up. My husband and I have taken friends there numerous times, and NEVER ordered from the menu. Whenever Hussein offered to make us something special, it wasn’t just special, it was phenomenal.

    Upon hearing that we were getting married some years ago, he gave us some really nice wine, along with heartfelt congratulations.

    We will miss Hussein and Phonecia…my condolences to his family. :(

  • cam w August 10, 2009 (7:34 pm)

    The last time I saw Hussein was at the WS Farmer’s market where he chose delectable produce and goods for his public and family. He was an artist at his craft. His loss is not only a shock but will leave an empty spot in our community.

  • Randy Grant August 10, 2009 (7:37 pm)

    Hussein has been a great friend and pillar of our community since I moved to Weat Seatle almosy 20 years ago. He will be deeply missed and always remembered. I will still feel his smile and warm personaiity every time I go to the beach or local markets.

  • Leslie August 10, 2009 (7:49 pm)

    I just recently had the privilege of dining at Phoenecia again and the best part was the warmth and generosity that Hussein extended to me and my family. Some people just set the bar so high and will always be remembered for their excellent spirit. My heart goes out to his family and close friends, I hope they have come comfort in knowing how much he was loved.

  • Diane Walter August 10, 2009 (7:50 pm)

    I never ate at the Phonecia but knew the family for a long time as I was a teacher at West Seattle Christian when William and the girls attended. I had not seen him and his wife for many many years and then saw them at the YMCA when their grandaughter was at the childcare. I was greeted like a long time friend. I will be praying for all of them. He was so proud of his family.
    Diane Walter

  • Michael August 10, 2009 (8:48 pm)

    We will probably not be able to attend the memorial this Friday as we have a prior commitment out of town. One thing that strikes me as I read these tributes to Hussein, is that even though I now realize that I was not the only one for whom he made “something special”… :-) …..even though I know this now, the way he made us feel at that very moment was “special”. Clearly the lives he touched were far greater than I realized at the time, and I only wish now that I had said something more to make him realize what a great person he was. He truly had a light within him that death has not dimmed. Take care Hussein….people like you do not come around often.

  • Joan Raub August 10, 2009 (10:25 pm)

    Many years ago, in the ’70’s, I was in the restaurant, having lunch with Hussein. A man came in, shabbily dressed, and looked at the menu. He looked at it for a very long time and then ordered “just coffee”. It was obvious to us both that he was very hungry. Hussein noticed the violin at the man’s feet and he asked the man for “a huge favor”. He told him how much he loved music and how special it would be to hear live music while he cooked. In return, he would be happy to fix the man a “special feast”. The man’s face lit up and he complied. He came back twice to play music for Hussein and Hussein fixed his meals with great pleasure. Hussein was a gift to the world because he knew how to truly give of himself.

    Joan Raub

  • Andrea August 11, 2009 (12:01 am)

    As a childhood friend of the family I am so shocked and saddened by death of Mr. Khazaal. I remember “working” in the Queen Anne Phoenecia restaurant alongside Sonya as a little girl on occasion. He first introduced me to Hummus and I’ve been in love ever since;) He was always the kindest man and I am so deeply upset for his family as it is such a devastating loss especially since he was way too young. My heart goes out to his family. . .


  • WSB August 11, 2009 (2:25 am)

    Please note we have posted a followup with funeral/memorial information:

  • alkibeach August 11, 2009 (11:31 am)

    Hello William,

    I am so sorry to hear of your Father’s passing. My Family enjoyed The Phoenecia so much mainly due to your fathers skills and presence. My first experience was when the restaurant was in the junction.

    We were seated next to Kareem Abdul Jabaar. We weren’t sure it was him until he stood which confirmed that we were sitting next to the famous ball player. Apparently everytime he came to Seattle he ate at your families restaurant.

    Your Father was such a gracious man.
    I called one day to make reservations for Corinne’s 30th B’day. He told me they were normally closed, but, for Corie he would create a special dinner for her, and would open for her family. I guess your Dad remembered her as being a classmate of yours.

    Our evening was great, the dinner superb and the wine was a gift from him.
    Thank you to your family for sharing him with the community, he will be remembered fondly.

    This verse from the Little Prince gave me comfort when my parents passed.:


    Blessings to your family from ours,

    Patricia Anderson Maguire
    Corinne Anderson
    Emily Anderson Faulkner

  • Leo E. Lynch August 11, 2009 (3:22 pm)

    I was very aaddened to hear of Hussein’s passing! What a loss! he and his family were close friends of ours while I was married. The Khazaal family and children have my deepest condolences.
    Hussien was one of the kindest, friendliest men I think I ever met. Their children and ours were good friends thru the years and grew up together.
    We went to the restarant quite a few times and always had the best food! It was great and to this day I think fondly of Hussien and how respectful and friendly he was at all times. Such a loss to all! My prayers go to all the Kahazaal family! He will be greatly missed by all.
    Leo E. Lynch

  • Marie McKinsey August 11, 2009 (5:13 pm)

    Hussein was one of my favorite people. He always had a smile and a kind word for everyone. And could he cook! I’ve had the pleasure of dining at Phoenecia many times. Hussein always remembered me, no matter how long it had been since I had seen him last. In April of this year, I invited friends to celebrate my 60th birthday with me at the restaurant. As always, he delivered on his promise to “make something very, very special” for me and my guests. It was a dinner we will always remember.

    My heart goes out to the Kahazaal family. May they find comfort in the knowledge that Hussein was loved by so many. It was a gift to have known him.
    — Marie McKinsey

  • Jeff August 11, 2009 (7:16 pm)

    I come to Seattle once in awhile for business from Boston, and I always hope I will have time to make a pilgrimage to the best restaurant in the world. I learned this morning by e-mail of this sad news. My tribute is here.

  • Tiffany Jefferson August 11, 2009 (11:03 pm)

    Sending my dear friend Nadia and family my love and prayers.

  • Adam Armstrong August 12, 2009 (11:18 am)

    I have lived next to the Khazaal family going on 8 months now & have to honestly say that out of the dozens of neighbors I’ve had over the years, they have been my absolute favorite. Hussein always used to come over to my porch (where I regularly sat to pick up a free internet connection from the coffee shop) and tell me the benefits of working for yourself. He would always tell me “200 dollar a day, 6000 dollar a month” I remember how big my eyes got when I went and typed it up on the calculator! When I told him I had begun the process of getting everything going independently he was very excited for me. It meant allot for someone to believe in me. Hussein was not only able to create a successful business, he was able to create the most meaningful thing you can in life, an amazing family.

  • Mort August 12, 2009 (11:22 am)

    The above comments contain everything one needs to know about living a good life. This one wonderful man embodied all that is possible for our often flawed species, and is a true role model for how we should all want to be remembered.

    Thank you, Hussein, and my deepest sympathies to your beautiful family that must now feel such terrible grief. The kindness and decency you brought to the world will long be remembered, and I know from experience that it will always be a source of great comfort and pride for them in the years to come.

  • Ted Diamond August 12, 2009 (12:20 pm)

    Whenever I’ve entertained friends or family not from West Seattle, I’ve made a point of bringing them to the Phoenecia so they could meet Hussein, and experience his hospitality. Stepping into the Phoenecia is more like stepping into a family or a community than just stepping into a restaurant.

    The past few weeks I’ve seen him at the West Seattle Farmer’s Market, and I’ve wanted to take him aside, take his hand, and tell him what he means to our community. That opportunity is gone. He was a remarkable man, and our lives will all be a little dimmer for his loss. My condolences to his family.

  • Marc Haddad August 12, 2009 (10:18 pm)

    I only met Mr. Khazaal once and in a matter of minutes it felt we knew each other for a long time. With his friendly words and amazing food, he made us feel at home in his restaurant. I am very sad to hear of his passing, may his soul rest in peace. My heart-felt condolences go out to his family.

  • Catherine Orsi August 12, 2009 (10:55 pm)

    This news is heartbreaking.
    Hussein was a true Gentleman who shared warmth, happiness and compassion where ever he walked. Knowing him for a minute was knowing him for years.

    My prayers go to his family.

  • Paige Stockley August 12, 2009 (11:43 pm)

    Hussein and his family made the food for our wedding in 2002, drove the lamb all the way to Hood Canal, and enchanted our amazed guests with tuscan bread salad, meze, delicious salads, and of course his world famous rose scented middle eastern pastries we have all come to crave and love, washed down with that delicious turkish coffee. That was near the beginning of our cherished friendship with Hussein. A man close to our hearts, who embraced us like one of his own, invited us to his daughter’s wedding, celebrated with us at the birth of our daughter Daisy (same age as his first grandchild), and welcomed us like family at the many many many special and just regular occasions we would return to his restaurant …. he spoiled us with our special favorites: seared ahi tuna with a fresh marjoram/jalapeno paste, the calamari with pomegranate, lamb with eggplant, and then the delectable turkish coffee and rose scented pastries. Hussein’s twinkling brown eyes, the gentle questions, the secret smile, the pride in what he knew was most probably the best food in all of Seattle, the proudly displayed photos of his cherished family, his children and their children eating at a nearby table……Hussein and his restaurant was our most special retreat, our own private home away from home. I cannot bear the thought that we will not see our dear Hussein again, it just cannot be. What words of wisdom would he have for us now….my love to all the family and you know we share in your grief. My father, the Seattle Times wine critic, Tom Stockley died at the same age of 63, ten years ago this January, in the Alaska Airlines #261 crash. Hussein knew this, and always had very profound words to share for me as I dealt with my grief at losing my father, someone who he knew through the food and wine world. How ironic that he would die at the same age. Dear Hussein. How we miss you so.
    With much love, Paige Stockley and Steve Lerner and 4 year old Daisy.

  • Thomas August 13, 2009 (7:47 am)

    Hussein gave me a break and hired me during a time of family need in the late 70’s in West Seattle. I’ll never forget his kindness and that of his wife as well as they trained a young teen to work hard and to appreciate fine food. Hussein was a kind and fair man who always remembered everyone and made them feel a part of the family. His dedication to his customers and his desire for everyman to experience culinary delights made him very unique.
    My God bless his family and comfort them in their loss.

  • Paige Stockley August 13, 2009 (9:19 pm)

    I have to share one more memory of our dear Hussein. It was after 9/11. Aware that there was backlash against of anyone of middle eastern origin, he hung a gigantic american flag in his restaurant so that there would be no mistake: he loved this country, and he wanted everyone to know it.
    It wasn’t necessary but he did it anyway.

  • Nader August 13, 2009 (11:38 pm)

    Rest in peace……

  • MeghanKali August 14, 2009 (1:10 am)

    I’ve known Hussein as my first boss, my best friends father, my mothers friend at the farmers market, and an amazing man. He never failed to give me that smile of his whenever he saw me, it was like Hussein was unfamiliar with the idea of having a bad day, he was always so supportive and present of the people around him. I am unable to really grasp the loss of him, I only hope that people will take the kindness, the selflessness, and the wisdom that he brought into their own lives and pass it onto those around him. Hussein was and will remain an angel.

  • Ryan & Bob August 14, 2009 (3:58 pm)

    We were shocked and greatly saddened to hear of Husseins passing. Although only meeting him and his family a short time ago, during the process of renting their home. We were made to feel like family. In this short period we experienced some of the best food we had ever had. Not to mention great conversation, I was amazed at the wonderful stories of Africa and other travels. We of course never had an encounter with Hussein when we left empty handed, a bottle of wine, bread, hummus…and a little nudge & wink when asking when the wedding was. I am new to the Seattle area and do not know many people so it was very special to be treated so kindly “like family” having my own family so far away. Your father was such a sweet, honest, generous person, that we will truly miss. Please let us know if there’s anything we can do.

  • Kasper August 14, 2009 (4:02 pm)

    This great man deserves a great burial in a great Christian cemetary, with lots of people attending. I wish his family the best and can’t believe what happened.

  • Mike Hickey August 15, 2009 (12:22 am)

    I went to Mr. Khazaal’s memorial service at Alki just a few hours ago. I am a friend and former English professor of William’s, but I never had the honor/pleasure of meeting his dad. The thing is, I feel like I know him.
    The poet Maya Angelou once said, “People won’t remember what you said and they won’t remember what you did, but they’ll remember the way you made them feel.” I’m sure Mr. Khazaal’s daughters will remember what he said, for example on those 40-minute car rides to Holy Names and in his slight exaggerations about academic achievements. And I’m sure countless people will remember what he did, that he was an extraordinary restauranteur – especially the gentleman who traded his violin playing for a hearty lunch. But mostly, what I saw in that crowd was hundreds of people who will remember how Mr. Khazaal made them feel: appreciated, significant, loved. And even though I didn’t know him, he gace me a gift as well. I have a wife, a three-year-old son, and another one on the way in early 2010. Tonight I learned how to be a better husband and father, how to love my family with all my heart and show that love every single day. Imagine that… from a man I never even met I received a gift so valuable that its price is incalcuable. And tomorrow morning I’ll tell my son, “If you only knew how much I loved you, you’d be the happiest little boy in the whole world.” And my son will say, “Juice, Dad, juice.” And as I pour his juice and fix his breakfast, I will feel Mr. Khazaal in my heart.
    Rest in peace, sir. As a teacher, it seems clear to me that you “passed the test” with flying colors!

  • Yvette Billing August 15, 2009 (5:09 pm)

    I am sooo sorry to here this shocking news.Hussein was the kindest person you could ever meet,not to mention the greatest cook!!!I am sorry I missed the service and my heart goes out to the family.I am deeply saddened

  • William Galloway August 17, 2009 (10:22 pm)

    My sincere condolences to his entire family. I know no one more kind, more gentle, more generous, more loving. Hussein lives on in the hearts and actions of all those he graced with his presence while he was alive.

    He blessed me twice. They’ve all been so kind. I can’t tell you how I feel. I hurt so much.

  • christine cannon August 17, 2009 (10:42 pm)

    We are so saddened to hear of the passing of one of Seattle’s great souls. Over the years Hussein was a joy to be around always so caring smiling treating everyone with great respect and love. Our family was his family. Our celebrations and sorrows met as if they were his own.. Thank you Hussein for spreading love through your joy of food and making something special of each moment We are all better from your presence.

    My family hopes that you will decide to continue the tradition of your father. Take the time you need to heal and grieve then be brave, When you are ready we are all by your side
    waiting for your translation of “something special” for you are his children and he is the angel over your shoulders.

    With Great Love and all our Hearts the Cannon family of Beach Drive

  • BLOODEY VEY August 23, 2009 (9:18 am)

    sry .. he was my oncle ..i realy didnt know him he left 2 america befor 1 year that i was born … even thow iwas sad fro his death

  • Corey August 25, 2009 (4:50 pm)

    What a great loss to our community and the world as a whole. Hussein, you’ll be missed.

  • Gordon September 10, 2009 (2:35 pm)

    What an extraordinary outpouring of love for Hussien.
    What a wonderful life to emulate.

    “and in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.”

    Lennon & McCartney

  • Ray Ishak September 18, 2009 (2:08 pm)

    I am not sure how to start and what to say. The news of Mr Hussein’s Passing was both sudden and sad. I guess heaven was short on Great people and great Food.
    My wife and I have been patrons for many years to what I classified as the only authentic Lebanese restaurant. And by authentic, I am not just referring to the cuisine only, but also to the true Lebanese Hospitality seldom encountered in this world. Mr Khazaal was a rare delight and a breath of fresh air that delivered the priceless feeling of being back home surrounded by family. A feeling that I am glad to have shared the honor of enjoying it with many friends and family here.

    Our last dinner was to celebrate my wife’s birthday a few months back. We arrived at the restaurant and were promptly greeted by Mr Khazaal with his great big contagious smile. He seated my wife and I at our table and after a few minutes of the usual delightful chat asking us about our children and relatives, I mentioned that it was My wife’s birthday and have been looking forward to having “real food”. He immediately proceeded to take the menus away and looked at my wife and asked the most magical question you would ever expect : What is it that you do not eat?
    Our night could not have been better.

    We will dearly miss that. I will miss the great pride and joy I got every time a friend or a client of mine called me and thanked me for sharing Phoenicia with them.

    Our thoughts and prayers to you and your family. May he rest in piece.

    Ray and Karin Ishak

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