Kamal Boulos - Steady Success

Kamal Boulos, owner of the Refectory Restaurant & Bistro for 32 of its 33-year existence, gives this month’s Final Word. The restauranteur talks about what he’s done for love, the government bureaucracy and his fondness for his mother’s cooking—her squab in particular.

All is fair in love and war, is that true?

What was your favorite toy as a child?

I put together model cars.

Are you a cat person or dog person?
If I was living in the country, a dog. My idea of spending time out is not walking around with a plastic bag on my hand. I love dogs, but dogs belong in the country where they can be free. 

Wheel of Fortune or Jeopardy?


What would you do if you were told you only had two months to live?
Express gratitude to the many people in my life that I value, and have valued, that I didn’t get a chance to perhaps express that to.

What’s the craziest thing you’ve done for love?
When I got engaged I rented costumes, hired musicians and hired a horse drawn carriage to pick her up at her home. When I came to the Refectory that night after she said yes, I wanted to tell everyone walking through the door. 

Chocolate or vanilla?


Is Starbucks overrated?
I would probably lean towards yes.

What is your pet peeve?

People that don’t care much about themselves or others.

What’s one thing you do on a daily basis?
I pray.

What’s the first thing you would do if you were the President?
Bring some financial sanity and accountability to our government bureaucracy. There is just so much government waste. The private sector runs things on a much better level.

If you could live anywhere in the entire world, where would it be and why?
Lake Tahoe. There is an amazing diversity in the geography. I love to water ski, I love to snow ski. It’s just a breathtaking place.

Are you superstitious?
No. There is no such thing as luck.

Luck is ______.

Do you believe in ghosts or aliens?

Favorite phrase?

“It’s not what you do that gives meaning to who you are; it’s who you are that gives meaning to what you do.”

Why do so many people think they can run a restaurant despite the high failure rate?

They have the mistaken impression that it’s a life of glamour. 

What type of songs do you have on your iPod?

I don’t have an iPod. But if I did have one, I’d have a blend of contemporary Christian songs, hymns and The Beatles.

What is your comfort food?
Probably my two most favorite meals are ones that I grew up on that my mother made. One is squab and one is a fish that’s pan fried and seasoned with cumin and lemon.

Favorite flower?
Stargazer lily.

Love or lust at first sight?

Love, never lust.

Fondest memory growing up?
Family Christmas memories.

What are you most afraid of?
Being so caught up in life that I forget to communicate to others that I care about them.

What’s your favorite kind of candy?

Any dark chocolate.

Ketchup or mustard?