Pappas restaurants lose bid to stay at Hobby Airport following Houston City Council vote and higher offer from Areas SAU
HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) — For those flying in and out of Houston’s Hobby Airport, Pappas has been a welcome sight. However, after 20 years, the popular family-owned restaurant lost its bid to stay at Hobby Airport after a vote by the Houston city council.
Council members voted 11-6 in favor of awarding a 10-year contract to a Miami-based company called Areas SAS.
The city’s procurement office scored Zones’ bid higher than Pappas’, but only by a small margin. However, Mayor Sylvester Turner said they won and he had no choice but to recommend the Zones over Pappas.
“I’d be damned if I brought you the second-place pick,” Turner said before Wednesday’s vote.
Mayor Turner and those who voted in favor of awarding the contract to the new company said it ultimately came down to adding revenue to the city.
Areas provided a higher percentage of sales for the city at 22.2% compared to Pappas, which provided 15.2%.
“The difference on the revenue side in 10 years is over $20 million for the city,” Turner said.
Council member Dave Martin echoed the same sentiments. He said he loves Pappas, but can’t look past the revenue.
“I’m going to ask you and the citizens of Houston: do you want me to vote for the number two firm, which is $50 million less in revenue than the winning firm? If you do, I don’t know what to say.” Martin said, looking into an ABC13 camera.
Pappas owner Chris Pappas sat through the meeting, visibly upset after the vote, realizing it was the end of an era at the airport.
“(I have) frustration with him,” Pappas said. “We’ve been in this process for over three and a half years.”
Pappas said there is no guarantee that Areas will be able to generate the revenue they predicted.
“They’re evaluating how much they’re going to give,” Pappas said. “They don’t have restaurants here. We have restaurants at the airport that we did our assessments on. We had harder facts.”
Pappas also expressed concerns about the procurement process.
“The panels currently selected are all airport employees and there are only five of them,” Pappas said. “This is a pretty small group”
Airport employees will be relocated to their other off-airport locations and will retain their salaries and positions, according to Pappas.
The restaurant created a petition to save Pappas and received more than 50,000 signatures.
A sign now says “Thank You Houston” outside one of the Pappas-owned restaurants in Hobby.
“I want to thank the public for coming out and rallying for us,” Pappas said. “It wasn’t enough to change things, but I think a lot of people on this council were aware of all the happiness you’ve had with your food and service over the years. So thank you all for taking part in the petition.”
In a press release, Hobby Airport said Areas operates more than 130 restaurants within 10 major U.S. airports. The new 10-year deal will include Killen’s Barbeque, The Spot, SpindleTap Brewery, Starbucks and Yard House, and is expected to generate up to $104 million in revenue.
The transition is scheduled to begin at the end of this year, with all businesses opening by November 2024.