Pappas restaurant group fires back at city of Houston over its future at Hobby Airport

HOUSTON – A contract worth hundreds of millions of dollars is up for debate at Houston’s City Hall.

“Why can’t other restaurants get this chance?” Tomaro Bell, a local activist, asked.

At Tuesday’s city council meeting, some community members like Bell expressed support for Miami-based company “Areas JV” to take over the food and beverage contract at Hobby Airport.

“Diversity, equity and inclusion should be at the forefront of all our hearts and minds,” Rev. James Dixon, NAACP said.

The Pappas family has operated their brands out of Hobby Airport for more than a decade. Community partners showed up to support them in keeping their contract.

“I ask that you please vote ‘no’ to agenda item 30, awarding Hobby food and beverage package one to Areas,” Kevin Dowd, owner of the Original Kolache Shop, said.

But, it could come down to numbers. Councilmember Dave Martin said the way bids are currently structured, if Pappas was awarded the contract, it would be a $25 million loss for the city’s enterprise fund over 10 years. The fund goes back to the airport.

Christina Pappas is firing back.

“Our current contract to what’s in the bid, they are not made the same way,” she said. “It’s not apples to apples.”

“No, it’s not,” Mayor Sylvester Turner countered. “I know apples to apples, and apples to oranges, and I know oranges to oranges okay, but since you are criticizing numbers and you are here, let’s deal with them.”

The CEO of Areas, JV Carlos Bernal, said the company is committed to using local, regional, and national restaurants for this contract.

Pappas is asking for more transparency from the city regarding the bidding process.

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