Buffet-style Chinese food chain Panda Express is about to expand its NYC footprint beyond JFK and the Queens Center mall. The Southern California company is planning to open an outpost at First Avenue and 69th Street in Manhattan next month, as well as another location at the corner of Fordham Road and Jerome Avenue in The Bronx. If everything goes according to plan, Panda might also expand to the corner of Eighth Avenue and 31st Street next year.
Panda Express actually took a first crack at Manhattan in the late 90s, with a Financial District outpost that was open for five years. Eater senior critic Robert Sietsema is skeptical of the expansion: "They’ll always bomb in New York because we’re pretty damn sophisticated when it comes to Chinese food." And David Chang tells the Times that "they’re going to have to elevate their game" to make it in NYC.
Panda Express is a privately held company with over 1,800 locations worldwide. Jeff Gordinier points out that the chain has a corporate culture that is "rooted in the concept of coaxing employees to reach their maximum potential." Employees are encouraged to read books like The Tipping Point and The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Andrea Cherng, the daughter of Panda founders Peggy and Andrew Cherng, tells the Times: "We have an intense culture. The pace of this company is never one that walks."
As a teaser for the NYC launch of Panda Express, the company's orange chicken truck will set up shop at Columbus Circle this Sunday.