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Panda Express files plans to go into new building near Wal-Mart at 33rd and Iowa


Lawrence’s South Iowa Street still isn’t going to have a mall, but soon it will have a staple of mall food courts across the country.

Panda Express, the country’s largest quick-service Chinese food restaurant chain, has filed plans to locate in the new building in front of Wal-Mart at the southeast corner of 33rd and Iowa streets.

As previously reported, an AT&T Wireless store will take a portion of the building, and in a little bit of a turn of events, Panda Express will take the rest. At one point, speculation was strong that Chipotle would occupy the building, but it looks as if the nationalities have changed on us.

I don’t have any word yet on when the restaurant may open. (The AT&T store, I’ve been told, is slated to open in March.) The Panda Express filing at City Hall was sparse on details. In fact, it doesn’t spell out that a Panda Express is the tenant, but the architectural plans have a Panda Express logo on them, which is a pretty good indicator.

The restaurant serves a lot of the basic Chinese dishes you are familiar with, such as, Kung Pao Chicken, Mandarin Chicken, and Broccoli and Beef. But it also has some less standard dishes like Honey Walnut Shrimp, Eggplant Tofu, and even some dishes with Angus steak. (Tofu or Angus steak, how am I ever going to decide?)

More interesting than the company’s menu, though, is its back story. I found this recent article on CNN Money that interviews the company’s two founders and co-CEOs, Andrew and Peggy Cherng.

Apparently, they met while in school at Baker University in Baldwin City, in the late 1960s. Both had immigrated to America — Andrew from China via Japan and Peggy from Burma.

Who knows? Maybe the founders will come back to the area for the store’s grand opening. It does appear that they’ve returned to Baker on occasion to help with fundraising at the private university.

If you are like me and enjoy reading about entrepreneurs, the entire CNN article is a pretty good read. It also isn’t too bad of a testimonial on the value of a Baker education. Panda Express, with about 1,500 restaurants, had revenue of about $1.7 billion last year.


flloyd 5 years, 2 months ago

You ever tied to eat at a Panda Express? Three parts oil and one part food. Total grease bomb.

Joe Berns 5 years, 2 months ago

I am guessing you haven't eaten at one. PE is the bomb and the ones in OP and Topeka are always packed because the food is good. 2x orange chicken, tons of fried rice, and a water. YUM

Topple 5 years, 2 months ago

Yuck... Why can't we get a Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Boston Market, or Fazoli's?

Joe Adams 5 years, 2 months ago

And you say "Yuck" to Panda Express....huh?

Thinking_Out_Loud 5 years, 2 months ago

None of those are places I enjoy eating, although neither is Panda Express. Why would I eat over processed and bland food at these places when I can eat at Genoveses, 715, or any of the other very good restaurants in town?

suesay 5 years, 2 months ago

Lawrence had a Boston Market on 23rd.

patkindle 5 years, 2 months ago

we had a boston market, no one liked it enough to keep it open lawrenceians are too cheap for a red lobster, they prefer to go out of town to spend their money

otto 5 years, 2 months ago

Where was the Bostom Maeket? I don't remember it.

alittlecurious 5 years, 2 months ago

It was at 23rd and Louisiana... NW quadrant of the intersection... I believe it was in what is now the AT&T mobile phone store.

MarcoPogo 5 years, 2 months ago

It was where the Pizza Hut is...next to the strip mall you're talking about.

auntmimi210 5 years, 2 months ago

Chad, I probably missed it in a previous Town Talk, but my 9-yr-old daughter is dying to know what's going on with 23rd Street Frozen Yogurt. Any word on whether they're permanently closed? Thanks!

Catalano 5 years, 2 months ago

Damn. I was hoping for Chipotle. Need one on that side of town.

08Champs 5 years, 2 months ago

I must agree with the Hooligan - China House has the best "chinese" food in town, and best prices. Now if they would just clean the glass front door every once in a while....

Liberty275 5 years, 2 months ago

Andrew and Peggy Cherng, thank you for investing in Lawrence.

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