Panda Express to open at One Kellogg Place

WICHITA — Panda Express has chosen One Kellogg Place on East Kellogg where Wal-Mart is for its first Wichita site.

Last year, Have You Heard? reported the California-based chain of more than 1,300 restaurants wanted to come to the Wichita area.

The first Panda will be in a freestanding 2,449-square-foot building with a drive-through between Pizza Hut and IHOP.

It will be ready in the fall.

“We just like the energy that surrounds that area,” says Susan Flesher, Panda’s real estate manager.

She specifically points to the nearby traffic and daytime population.

“We just felt like that was a good first site.”

Flesher compares Panda’s 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. Flesher adds that none of the dishes contain MSG.

Panda is already in the Kansas City area and Manhattan and plans four to five restaurants here, including the Hutchinson area.

“We’d love to do two or three more in the next 18 months, but it’s just a matter of finding a location,” Flesher says.

Leisa Lowry of J.P. Weigand & Sons handled the deal and is representing Panda in the market.

Flesher says that typically, it’s a 14- to 18-month process to find a restaurant site. Often, it’s longer than that for a freestanding building with a drive-through.

Flesher says she and Lowry only started looking for sites in December, so to have one that will be built by fall, “That’s a record.”