Get to Know The Inspiring Couple Behind America’s Favorite Chinese Fast Food Restaurant
It’s no secret that Americans love eating Chinese food. No wonder a lot of restaurants serving delicious Asian cuisine have found success in the country. In fact, statistics say that there around 41,000 Chinese restaurants in the United States alone. That’s reportedly three times higher than the number of McDonald’s fast-food joints.
One of the most popular chains today is Panda Express, famously known for their chow mein and orange chicken. Meet the people behind the Chinese restaurant’s incredible success story.
Power couple Andrew and Peggy Cherng, both age 71, share the distinction of holding the CEO post in their super successful business in the food industry. Currently, they are reportedly worth a whopping $3 billion managing around 2,000 locations around the world. But before all this, they were just like the many immigrants trying to achieve the American dream.
Andrew was born in Yangzhou, China to a chef father. He eventually came over to the United States for his education and studied mathematics. It was during this time at Baker University that he crossed paths with his future wife Peggy, who came to America from Hongkong.
While she later transferred to another university, their meeting ended in them marrying each other in 1975 after Peggy got her Ph.D. At the time of their marriage, Andrew has already been in the restaurant for two years and has actually opened a place called Panda Inn with his father working as the chef.
Peggy would only join the business 1983 and that was when they created Panda Express as it is known today. The first branch of the restaurant was opened at a shopping mall in Glendale, California.
Combining their knowledge and experiences in food service and engineering, the couple was able to streamline the restaurant’s logistics and operations. In fact, Peggy is considered to be a pioneer in the use of technology for tasks like re-ordering ingredients and even doing inventory.
Soon, all their hard work paid off. Within the span of a decade, their single restaurant spawned 97 others after rapid growth. And their success continues to this day recording impressive sales numbers like the 90 million pounds of orange chicken they sold in 2018 alone.
Not surprisingly, the business of Chinese food became a family affair for the Cherngs. In fact, two of their children actually work for the restaurant’s corporate parent, Panda Restaurant Group.
Their daughter Nicole Cherng reportedly serves as the manager of catering and special events for the company. Now, the couple’s goal is to further challenge themselves and see what more they can achieve while also keeping their mission to inspire in mind.
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