City council to vote on replacing Pappas Restaurants in Hobby Airport with Miami-based company

Councilmember: ‘We’re looking at getting rid of our brand, what makes Houston. It just doesn’t make sense.’

HOUSTON – A food fight has taken flight at Hobby Airport.

It’s all centered around a brand that has been a household name in the Houston region for decades, Pappas.

The chain’s signature brands at the airport include Pappadeaux, Pappasitos and Pappas Bar-B-Q.

However, the chain potentially may no longer be housed at Hobby after a competing company promised tens of millions more in future revenue during a recent bid to earn the concessions contract.

In its last contractual run, Pappas over-delivered for the Houston Airport System, producing $25 million more dollars than expected. The company’s founder attributed their performance and customer service to assisting the airport in achieving a coveted five-star rating.

The recent razor-thin decision was handed down by five city of Houston employees. The result means Pappas, pending a city council vote, will be out of Hobby in favor of a company called Areas JV. The new tenant is based out of Miami with ownership ties to Spain.

“We’re looking at getting rid of our brand, what makes Houston. It just doesn’t make sense,” said councilmember Robert Gallegos at a city council hearing last week.

Mayor Sylvester Turner made it clear to all at city hall that he is a fan of Pappas restaurants.

“I love Pappadeux. I love Pappasitos,” said Turner.

During the same city council session, councilmember Michael Kubosh stated that Houstonians and tourists enjoy hitting the dining venues at Hobby.

“I believe people like the local brand, even the flyers that come in from other places,’ said Kubosh.

This is something that Elaine Guillory has seen during her years at Hobby with Pappas

“When you hear or talk to the guest, you hear we are iconic,” said Guillory.

Guillory says she and other employees are concerned about what the future may potentially hold,

“Pappas is a family-based restaurant, we want to make sure that we are with a company that we know,” said Guillory.

So, what is potentially replacing Pappas and their partners at Hobby? National chain brands with some regional options. One of them, according to the mayor’s office in a statement last week, is Throughgood Coffee. However, the coffee shop closed its doors last September in the Heights, and there are no other shops listed in Houston listed.

The five-person review panel that judged the presentations included members from the airport as well as the mayor’s office.

Mayor Turner did make it clear he is not playing favorites when speaking with Chris Pappas at the city council meeting.

“I do like you, but if I, if the administration made a decision based on who we like we would be vilified for going against the procurement process and results,” Turner said.

Councilmembers as well as those involved in the bid process told KPRC 2 Investigates that they hope all the individual scores by all the judges are released.

The agenda item is set for a vote on Wednesday after being tagged last week. There is the potential it could very well be tagged again.

About the Author:

Journalistic bulldog focused on accountability and how government is spending your dollars. Husband to Wonder Woman, father to a pitcher and two Cavapoos. Prefers queso over salsa.