AZ: Afghans Find Home in America



In another country, another time, he might be a doctor by now, healing the
sick.

Instead, Said Hosseyni, 33, is running a restaurant in a town thousands of
miles from his home in Afghanistan.

Still, it beats keeping the grass green, or driving a cab - two of his
previous occupations since coming to America.

On his first night as a Tucson cabdriver, he made $20 in a 12-hour shift -
but it cost him $35 to lease the taxi that night.

It gets worse. "The first call they gave me, I could not get out of
Downtown," says Hosseyni. "I did not know the city. I was an hour late."

Today, he's holding forth from the old Coco's on West Drachman Street,
which has been transformed into something out of Arabian Nights. Well, sort
of.

It's the same old carpet, the same old booths and counter stools. But
Middle Eastern music now wafts through the sound system, and some of the
booths are canopied in veils.

The Sultan Palace, as it's now called, has also been painted and new
curtains hung, courtesy of Hosseyni's partner, Diba Kushkaki, 35, also born
in Afghanistan.

"It took me two months to make those curtains," says Kushkaki, who cooks
the Afghan entrees featured on the menu.

A mother of four, this is her first venture as a business owner. "I love to
cook," says Kushkaki, who's also catered to the throngs attending the
annual gem and mineral show.

At the urging of friends, she linked up with Hosseyni and a third partner,
Rabani Doost, also from Afghanistan.

"It took us about a year to find the right place," says Kushkaki. "We had
to replace everything. Even the ovens were missing."

Though slow at first, business has been picking up at the restaurant, open
since January

 


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