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Andrew J.C. Cherng

Andrew J.C. Cherng

Title:  Founder and Chairman
Company:  Panda Restaurant Group
Location:  Rosemead, California

Education

BS, Mathematics, Baker University, 1970
MS, Applied Mathematics, University of Missouri

Huntsman School Interactions

"Entrepreneurship Through Franchising" Presentation - March 23, 2011

Biography

As Founder and Chairman of Panda Restaurant Group, Inc., (PRG), the parent company of Panda Inn, Panda Express and Hibachi-San, Andrew Cherng has built an organization that upholds its mission “To deliver exceptional Asian dining experiences by building an organization where people are inspired to better their lives.” Andrew’s inside-out approach to both his personal and professional life has created an environment at PRG that prioritizes people and guests before financials – a philosophy that has helped to elevate PRG as the nationwide leader in Asian foodservice.

PRG began in 1973 when Mr. Cherng and his father Master Chef Ming Tsai Cherng combined their talents to open Panda Inn, one of the first Chinese restaurants in Pasadena, Calif. The menu is a cutting edge blend of styles from both Mandarin and Szechwan traditions that has introduced an array of new flavors to Southern California cuisine.

With a loyal guest following at Panda Inn, and a desire to continue exploring new ventures, Mr. Cherng broke new ground in the restaurant industry by providing gourmet recipes in a quick service environment with the launch of Panda Express in 1983. Panda Express quickly became the restaurant of choice among adventurous food lovers on-the-go.

Today, PRG operates over 1,300 locations throughout 38 states including Puerto Rico. Mr. Cheng’s passion for coaching and continuous learning is credited with driving the success of the company. Each new restaurant is another opportunity to impact the lives of both the associates and the community they serve. PRG currently employs nearly 18,000 associates and exceeds $1.4 billion in sales.

Mr. Cherng’s inside-out approach started before PRG gained its prominence as the world’s leader in Asian dining experiences. Whether it is improving the front-of-store experience or creating career paths for his associates, he is challenged by how to encourage and inspire people to learn and better themselves, personally and professionally. What started as a passion for food has evolved into a passion for life, learning and people.

Mr. Cherng’s commitment to the growth and development of his associates extends to the community they serve. With his wife, Peggy, he established Panda Cares and the Panda Charitable Foundation, which provides support to children’s organizations with monetary and food donations as well as volunteer support. Mr. and Mrs. Cherng represent PRG on the board of directors at Methodist Hospital of Southern California, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and are proud partners with the Children’s Miracle Network.

For his achievements, he has been recognized with numerous awards including "Entrepreneur of the Year" by the Asia Society of Southern California in 2007. In 2008, the Los Angeles Business Journal named the Cherngs "Business Persons of the Year" and inducted them into its Business Hall of Fame.

Under his leadership, PRG was ranked No. 1 by QSR Magazine in the Asian quick-service category for seven consecutive years. In 2010, Panda Restaurant Group was named among the top five minority-owned businesses in Los Angeles by the Los Angeles Business Journal and was also recognized by the publication as one of the "Best Places to Work" in Los Angeles in 2007. Moreover, in 2005, Andrew and Peggy were inducted into the National Restaurant Association’s Hall of Fame.

Mr. Cherng earned his bachelor's degree in mathematics from Baker University in Kansas, where he met Peggy, who serves as PRG’s Co-Chairman. He earned a master’s degree in applied mathematics from the University of Missouri.