Hobby Airport unveils new restaurants as Papas’ restaurants come out

Operators of Houston’s William P. Hobby Airport are moving with a speed and efficiency that most airline executives can only dream of. Seven new overnight dining concepts emerged after Pappas Restaurants moved operations from the facility Thursday, according to a Houston Airports press release. An eighth restaurant is expected to open next week.

The new restaurants are temporary, though the press release indicates that Pink’s Pizza will be a regular item after moving to another location later. Five existing locations—Chick-fil-A, Buffalo Wild Wings, Peet’s Coffee & Tea, Wendy’s, and Starbucks—will remain open with the addition of new restaurants:

  • Gastrohub Bistro & Bar, advance security
  • StrEATt at Gate 2
  • StrEAT bar at gate 4
  • Latrell’s Mexican Kitchen at Gate 21
  • Pink Pizza at Gate 21
  • Gastrohop at Gate 41 Food Court
  • Pick up Stix at the Gate 41 food court
  • Hubcap Bar & Grill at Gate 46

And more long-term options are on the way. While popular Pappas franchises — Pappas BBQ, Pappasito’s Cantina, and Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen — have disappeared from the airport, 20 new dining and retail concepts are slated to open by late 2024, according to Houston Airports. The number of new restaurants is the result of two 10-year contracts awarded by the Houston City Council to the franchisees of LaTrelle’s Galley and Areas HOU JV. According to Adam Zovanic of Houston Public Media, the deals could generate up to $178 million in revenue for Houston Airports. Here is a full list of upcoming shows and their expected opening timeframe:

  • Fat Cat Creamery, Fall 2023
  • Dunkin’ Donuts, fall 2023
  • The Spot, Fall 2023
  • The Spot Bar, fall 2023
  • Velvet Taco, fall 2023
  • Rustic, Spring/Summer 2024
  • Jersey Mike, Spring/Summer 2024
  • BW, Spring/Summer 2024
  • Chick-fil-A (new site), Spring/Summer 2024
  • Starbucks 1 (new location), Spring/Summer 2024
  • Starbucks 2 (new location), Spring/Summer 2024
  • Thurgood Bistro, Spring/Summer 2024
  • Common Pond Cafe, fall/winter 2024
  • Yard House, fall/winter 2024
  • Killen’s Grill, Fall/Winter 2024
  • Spindletap Brewery, Fall/Winter 2024
  • Dish Association Winter 2024
  • Longhorn Steakhouse, winter 2024
  • Pink Pizza (new location), Winter 2024
  • Wendy’s (updated concept), winter 2024

“The new selection of distinctive and fun culinary options will celebrate Houston’s signature and delicious flavors,” Houston airports officials said in the press release. “The eclectic mix of local favorites and trusted national brands will enhance the sense of place within the airport.”

However, the journey to refresh the menu of food options has been riddled with controversy and legal hurdles, according to an earlier report. Representatives of the vacated Pappas Restaurants, which have been the Hobby’s primary food vendor for the past two decades, accused Houston leaders of an unfair bidding process for the contract and filed suit in April against the city after losing a bid to the districts, which was also named as a defendant.

The suit alleged that the city failed to follow its procurement process guidelines, and although Papas’ legal team twice requested an emergency injunction to delay the restaurant group’s exit from the airport, they were denied. The drama continued until the eleventh hour, when Pappas officials were forced to vacate their space by 11:59 p.m. Thursday, according to KPRC. The Houston news station obtained a statement from Christina Pappas, director of marketing for Pappas Restaurants, that claimed the company wasn’t even allowed to take back its own equipment.

“today, [Houston Airport System] The City of Houston refused to let us vacate our slots at Hobby Airport. We were working extraordinarily hard to get all of the removable equipment out when our team met the chief of airport security and law enforcement who instructed them not to remove equipment that had been purchased by Papas’ restaurants,” she stated, according to KPRC. The city works on behalf of the regions to forcefully obtain expensive equipment without payment. The city’s behavior remains disgraceful. Houston deserves better.”

In response, the Houston legal team told KPRC that the dispute came down to a misunderstanding. “The contractual arrangement between the City and Pappas would allow Pappas to remove ‘removable’ fixtures at the end of the contract period, and Pappas was free to do so. However, Pappas also seeks to dismantle and retire other key fixtures, such as the three-compartment, bolt-on sinks. or “permanently” at Hubei Airport.Such removal is not permitted under contract, causes damage to airport facilities and will inevitably cause customer service disruptions as the airport switches vendors.It has been repeatedly reminded of its contractual obligation to leave these “permanent” installations “The city will continue to comply with its contractual obligations to ensure a smooth transition as the districts take over the space previously managed by Pappas.”

Per Zovanic of Houston Public Media, the case will have another hearing on June 6, when the judge considers motions from the city and districts to dismiss the case.

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