Contact Us

Pappas Restaurants Files Protest Over City's Hobby Airport Selection Process

Pappas Restaurants isn't going to leave Hobby Airport without a fight.

After officially losing out on a contract to supply concessions at Hobby Airport, Houston-based Pappas Restaurants filed a protest with the city of Houston, objecting to its selection method.

Pappasito's Cantina at 6445 Richmond Ave. is seen on March 9. Five Pappas restaurants are slated to move out of Hobby Airport after Houston City Council awarded a contract to Areas.

Houston City Council voted 11-6 on March 9 to approve a contract with Areas restaurant group, which scored 85.8 to Pappas parent company 4 Families’ score of 85.2 in the procurement process. Pappas attorney Rachel Hooper of BakerHostetler argued in the company’s protest that the difference of less than one point warrants a re-evaluation, the Houston Chronicle reported.

“The city violated its own policies throughout the entirety of the Hobby Airport procurement process, and we intend to continue to investigate and hold them accountable,” Pappas Restaurants CEO Chris Pappas said in an emailed statement to the Chronicle. “We will continue to fight for a just process, and we will continue to pursue all legal actions available.”

Pappas submitted its 20-page protest to Houston Chief Procurement Officer Jedediah Greenfield on March 13, four days after the city council vote.

Pappas has operated in Hobby Airport since 4 Families won a contract in 2002. That contract’s expiration and the new contract award mean the five Pappas restaurants in Hobby Airport will move out in the next two years.

Greenfield told Houston Public Media that the city has received the protest, staff is working “expeditiously on our review and response,” and it plans to schedule the debriefing requested in the protest. 

Hooper argued in the protest that members of the evaluation committee lacked relevant experience, misapplied criteria and went against the “Hire Houston First” ordinance, the Houston Chronicle reported. 

Pappas Restaurants campaigned to stay at Hobby Airport despite the scores, plastering social media with requests to sign an online petition and spelling “Save Pappas at Hobby Airport” on its restaurant signs around the city. More than 51,000 people signed the petition. 

The Mayor’s Office of Communications issued a statement before the vote, accusing Pappas of spreading disinformation about a “rigorous and meticulous competitive procurement process.”

Areas prevailed in part due to its compensation agreement with the city. Areas said it would hand over 22.2% of profits, whereas Pappas offered 15.5%. Pappas ranked higher than Areas when compensation to the city wasn't factored in.

The Houston Chronicle reported that city records show Areas ranked seventh out of eight bidders in an earlier bidding round before finishing in fourth place. Pappas tied for second place, and LaTrelle’s, a group that received half of the Hobby contract, finished first.