Pappas files lawsuit against city following controversial awarding of Hobby concessions contract

Family claims the city violated state law through inappropriate contact by the mayor’s office.

HOUSTON – The dispute at Hobby Airport between the Pappas Family and the City of Houston will continue outside of city hall. The new venue will be a Harris County courtroom after the family filed a 269-page lawsuit on Tuesday over the awarding of the recent concessions package at the airport.

The lawsuit comes more than a month after the city council awarded a lucrative contract to a Miami company resulting in Pappas being booted from Hobby after having a presence for 20 years. KPRC 2 Investigates exposed controversial claims in the Miami company’s proposal that had council members calling for an internal investigation.

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

In the lawsuit, Pappas said the city violated state law as well as city codes. Pappas said there was inappropriate contact by the Houston mayor’s office during what was a designated “no contact period” in the bidding process. The Pappas family pointed to a voicemail allegedly left by William-Paul Thomas in November of 2019 to Chris Pappas saying, “Oh, Mr. Pappas, this is William-Paul Thomas, Mayor Sylvester Turner’s Office. I wanted to visit with you regarding the upcoming airport concession at Hobby Airport. I had a great meeting with a couple of folks, and I’m going to share with you some of the thoughts that we had going forward. Please, give me a call at your convenience,” the lawsuit states.

Thomas was federally convicted in June of 2022 by the U.S. Department of Justice for conspiracy. Thomas admitted guilt last summer to accepting cash bribes tied to bar and restaurant classifications during the pandemic, federal prosecutors said. He is awaiting a June sentencing date.

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Chris Pappas issued the following statement regarding the lawsuit:

“Today, Four Families of Hobby filed a lawsuit against the City of Houston. On Friday, April 7th, we received the City’s response to the post-award protest we filed with the Procurement Office. Unfortunately, the response was conclusory at best and clearly did not take seriously our concerns that the City failed to comply with state law, City Code, as well as the City’s own policies and procedures in this procurement.”

In a call with KPRC 2 Investigates, the mayor’s office said they are not completely familiar with the lawsuit, but they added the city has followed the procurement policy fairly throughout the entire process.

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