New Restaurants Are Coming to Houston’s Hobby Airport, From Common Bond to Velvet Taco

Jan. 5, 2023

Jan. 4—Also on the way: Fat Cat Creamery, The Rustic, Dunkin', Jersey Mike's Subs, Wendy's and Peet's Coffee.

Houston City Council voted unanimously to approve the 10-year concessions deal at Hobby. LaTrelle's Galley LP, a family-owned, Houston-based company that got its start at the airport selling cookies out of its bakery in 1985, won the bidding contest and will manage the contract.

"The very first LaTrelle's airport location was in Hobby Airport. There, in just 350 square feet, we sold our grandmother's recipes," said Chris James, the company's business development director. "Our family all worked there. To grow from that to now overseeing and operating this 17,000 square-foot, multibrand initiative is such a proud moment for LaTrelle's."

The James family said The Rustic will also feature live music performances inside the airport, as the bar and restaurant is famous for at its other locations. The transition to the new restaurants is expected to begin in April and take two years to complete.

Lucrative concessions deals often inspire infighting and controversy at City Council, but the deal for LaTrelle's, a longtime local concessionaire, sailed through without a hint of either. Councilmember Robert Gallegos, whose District I includes Hobby, temporarily moved to delay the vote because he said the airport system had not briefed him on the deal, but he released that motion later in the meeting.

The restaurants are expected to bring in $334 million in gross sales over the decade, according to estimates from the bidding process. The city and LaTrelle's project City Hall will reap about $73 million from those sales in that time, with $8 million in net profit for LaTrelle's.

City officials celebrated the contract as a success story for the city's initiative to increase business for minority and women-owned contractors. LaTrelle's started out in the project as a subcontractor, getting business from other companies that had rights to city contracts. Now, it has one for itself.

"It's an important day, and it showcases that businesses can be at one level and then elevate to another level, and showcase that excellence that we talk about in our city," Mayor Sylvester Turner said.

The airport's restaurants currently feature many Pappas Restaurants staples, such as Pappasito's, Pappas Burgers and Pappadeaux. It is possible those establishments will remain under a second concessions deal still under consideration at City Hall.

The city initially put out both concessions packages together, but the bid for the other package was canceled in September.

"Due to comparatively close scoring, a clear winner for Package One could not be determined," Interim Chief Procurement Officer wrote to bidders.

The city put out a new request for proposals in that package Oct. 10, with proposals due by Nov. 1. Several interested contractors asked for an extension on that short deadline, but the city did not offer one. The bid still is under consideration.

AYG Food Services, known for its Halal Guys franchises, and Chancellor's Ballroom, best known for Lemond Kitchen, are subcontractors on the deal approved Wednesday, although travelers won't find Lemond or Halal Guys in the airport. AYG, owned by Masroor Fatany, will manage one eatery and Chancellor's, owned by Reginald Martin and Merinda Watkins-Martin, will manage two.


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