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Fast Food - March 28, 2014

Q: In 2008, Baker University alumnus Andrew Cherng was included in the Forbes magazine list of 25 Notable Chinese-Americans. What national fast food restaurant chain did he help establish? (Hint: You’ll find one of his franchises in Lawrence.)

PandaExpress Flickr Charles-SirithoIn 1973, Andrew Cherng opened the first Panda Inn in Pasadena, Calif., with his father, Master Chef Ming-Tsai Cherng. Panda Inn was one of the first restaurants to introduce the robust flavors of Mandarin and Szechuan cuisine to Southern California. The first Panda Express opened in 1983. (Flickr Photo by Charles Siritho)


A: Panda Express


PandaFortune Flickr_Byron-ChinThe Contents of a Panda Express Fortune Cookie (Flickr Photo by Byron Chin)

Andrew Cherng (Churn) was born in mainland China in 1948 but grew up largely in Taiwan and Japan. At the age of 18, he came to the United States and studied at Baker University. Baker is where Andrew met his future wife, Peggy. He earned a degree in mathematics from Baker in 1970. In 1983, Cherng opened Panda Express, a fast food restaurant, in Glendale, Calif. During the next decade, he had opened 100 restaurants. Today, the restaurant has become the largest Chinese-American, fast food chain in the United States with annual sales of a billion dollars!

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