You know that way-too-delicious Chinese-American orange chicken? Apparently, that was a Panda Express chef’s invention back in 1987. It’s no surprise that the savory-sweet dish pairs delightfully with the variety of sparkling sodas and other drinks you can get along with your order.
The company’s founders, Andrew Cherng and Peggy Cherng, opened the first Panda back in 1983, at a food court in California’s Glendale Galleria mall.
The business has come a long way since then. As of 2022, Panda Express was the largest “Asian segment restaurant chain” in the United States, with about 2,200 restaurants.
Mr and Mrs Cherng are both still heavily involved with the company, and serve as co-CEOs and co-chairs.
Another interesting data point: Unlike so many other fast food and fast casual restaurants, Panda Express does not have any franchised stores. The Panda Restaurant Group operates all of the chain’s locations (except for those in places like airports, stadiums and military bases, where different rules apply).