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