Glendale, California, U.S.
|Headquarters||1683 Walnut Grove Avenue, Rosemead, California, U.S.|
Number of locations
|United States, Puerto Rico, Guam, Mexico, Canada, South Korea, United Arab Emirates|
|Products||American Chinese cuisine|
|Revenue||$2 billion (March 2014)|
Number of employees
|Parent||Panda Restaurant Group|
Panda Express is a fast casual restaurant chain which serves American Chinese cuisine. It is the largest Asian segment restaurant chain in the United States, where it was founded and is mainly located (in addition to other countries and territories in North America and Asia). Panda Express restaurants were traditionally located in shopping mall food courts, but the chain now operates units in many other environments and formats, including stand-alone restaurants, as well as universities, casinos, airports, military bases, amusement parks and other venues.
Panda Express has over 1,900 restaurants, located in 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, Canada, Mexico, Korea, and the United Arab Emirates. The company does not offer franchising; all units are company-owned and operated.
The chain offers a variety of Chinese-cuisine-inspired dishes (e.g., Orange Chicken; Firecracker Chicken Breast; Beijing Beef; Grilled Teriyaki Chicken; Kung Pao Chicken). "Combo meals" are served with customer's choice of either fried rice, steamed rice, chow mein, or mixed vegetables. No MSG is added to any of the items at Panda Express after it has been delivered to the restaurant, nor does Panda Express purchase from any suppliers who add MSG prior to delivery.
Panda Express is headquartered in Rosemead, California. The Panda Express brand is a casual, fast-food variation of corporate sibling and predecessor Panda Inn (a chain of upscale, table service restaurants).
The Panda Restaurant Group, parent company of Panda Inn, Panda Express, and Hibachi-San, was founded by Andrew and Peggy Cherng and Andrew's father, Master Chef Ming Tsai Cherng. Andrew Cherng and his father are from the Yangzhou region of China's Jiangsu province, while Peggy was born in Burma and raised in Hong Kong. Both Andrew and Peggy Cherng are alumni of Baker University in Baldwin City, Kansas (where they first met). Peggy Cherng received her B.S. degree in applied mathematics from Oregon State University in 1971, and her M.S. in Computer Science and Ph.D. degree in electrical engineering from the University of Missouri-Columbia. Andrew Cherng also received his M.S. in Mathematics from the University of Missouri.
In 1973, when Andrew's parents moved to the United States, Andrew went into business with his father and opened their first Panda Inn restaurant in Pasadena, California. At the beginning, business was lacking to the degree that Andrew had to offer special deals and freebies so that customers would dine at Panda Inn. In 1982, Peggy joined Andrew in the restaurant business. While operating Panda Inn, Andrew became acquainted with then-UCLA head football coach Terry Donahue, as well as Terry's brother Dan, who happened to be in the real estate business. It was because of this connection that in 1983, Donahue Schriber Real Estate, the manager of the Glendale Galleria, invited the Cherngs to develop a fast-food version of Panda Inn for the Galleria's food court, and Panda Express was launched that October. A second location was opened two years later at the Westside Pavilion in 1985. The chain has steadily expanded across the United States since then.
At first, Panda Express restaurants were found solely in food courts in major shopping malls. During the late 1980s and early 1990s, the Cherngs began experimenting with supermarket-based branches, through a deal with Vons, and then stand-alone restaurant locations. In 1997, the company opened its first stand-alone, drive-through restaurant, in Hesperia, California. Today less than 2% of its restaurants are in malls.
Because Peggy had worked for several years as a software designer & engineer for defense contractors like McDonnell Douglas, Panda Express computerized its operations early on. Peggy also brought a systems analysis perspective to the business and worked through the logistics and standardization issues necessary to scale up the concept.
In 2000, they launched Panda Cares to give back to the community. They provide funding, food and volunteer services to children in need and disaster relief efforts.
On the ABC News TV program Nightline, April 18, 2011, there was a feature segment on Panda Express and its success. The segment described how Andrew Cherng encourages his workers and management to go through self-help programs emphasizing Landmark Education.
In June 2013, it was announced that the restaurant chain will pay $150,000 to settle an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission action on behalf of at least three female teenagers who were allegedly sexually harassed between 2007 and 2009 by one male kitchen supervisor in Kauai'i, Hawaii.
In November 2013, Panda Express opened its first location in the western Pacific by opening a location in the American territory of Guam. The first location in the state of Alaska was opened in December 2015.
As of 2014, the Panda Restaurant Group had annual sales of over $2 billion and close to 25,000 employees. They also opened Panda Innovation Kitchen in Pasadena with their daughter, Peggy Cherng, overlooking a majority of the restaurant's business. The idea for Panda Innovation Kitchen is to experiment with new flavours and ingredients to come up with new menu items. In addition, they also opened a tea bar to introduce trendy Chinese drinks such as boba milk tea and new innovative drinks like the Fortune Cookie Shake.
Panda Express also operates in Mexico, Canada, South Korea, and United Arab Emirates. The first location in Mexico opened in that nation's capital of the same name in September 2011. In October 2013, the first Panda Express located in Canada opened its doors on Hunt Club Road in Nepean, Ontario. The first location in South Korea was opened in Seoul in September 2014.
On May 26, 2014, it was reported by Arabian Business news that Panda Express would be opening a restaurant in the United Arab Emirates. The first Panda Express restaurant in the Middle East was open in Dubai in November 2014.
In 2001, Panda Express previously had 8 locations in Japan that were operated under a franchise agreement that has since elapsed.
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