The national chain is making its first foray into the Wichita market with four to six restaurants in the next two to three years.
“We’d love to open our first one this year — two if we can,” says Susan Flesher, the chain’s senior regional real estate manager.
The company, based in Rosemead, Calif., has 1,300 sites serving Chinese food in a fast-casual style nationally.
Flesher compares Panda Express’ format to Chipotle, where diners first select a starch — steamed or fried rice or chow mein — and vegetables followed by two to three entrees.
Entrees consist of traditional Chinese dishes like kung pao chicken, sweet-and-sour pork and beef and broccoli.
Orange chicken is “kind of our signature dish,” Flesher says.
“Right now we’re really looking for end caps,” Flesher says.
She’s working on the first two sites now, one on the east side and one west.
Flesher says the chain is particularly active with schools and children’s groups in each of the markets it’s in through a program called Panda Cares.
“We give back to the community,” she says. “Panda Cares is a big deal for us.”