Alumni-owned business comes to the MU Student Center

September 09, 2022

On Aug. 18, Andrew Cherng (center) returned to the Mizzou campus to celebrate the MU Student Center Panda Express grand opening.

On Aug. 18, Andrew Cherng (center) returned to the Mizzou campus to celebrate the MU Student Center Panda Express grand opening.

By Deidra Ashley | Show Me Mizzou

When Andrew and Peggy Cherng attended the University of Missouri in the ’70s, they didn’t know they’d one day launch one of the most successful Asian dining concepts in the world. Today, Mizzou students, faculty, staff and visitors can enjoy American Chinese food from the couple’s restaurant chain, Panda Express, from its new location now open in the MU Student Center.

“It’s really nice to be back at Mizzou,” said Panda Express co-founder and co-CEO Andrew Cherng at the location’s ribbon-cutting ceremony. “At Panda, we are in the people development business — just like the University of Missouri. We are a learning organization, just like you, and we are so happy to be here to provide an opportunity for students and staff to grow with us. I want to give my sincerest thanks to the university for working closely with us to make this happen.”

MU’s Panda Express location joins eight other Missouri Student Unions restaurants. It offers classic Panda Express menu items, accepts the Campus Dining Plan and is open Monday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. The storefront features design elements exclusive to Mizzou, including a wall promoting MU’s values and a mural highlighting iconic Mizzou imagery.

A history of support

Andrew Cherng earned a master’s degree in applied mathematics from the MU College of Arts and Science, and Peggy Cherng earned a master’s degree in computer science and a doctorate in electrical engineering from the MU College of Engineering. Together, the couple opened Panda Express in 1983. Panda Restaurant Group, which consists of Panda Express, Panda Inn and Hibachi-San, has been recognized by Forbes as one of America’s best employers. With more than 2,400 stores, 50,000 associates and $4 billion in sales, Panda Express is the largest family-owned and operated Asian dining concept in America.

Through the years, the Cherngs have donated more than $4.5 million to Mizzou — directly benefitting students through scholarships and programs in the College of Engineering and the Honors College. They founded the Cherng Program in Honors together with the Panda Charitable Foundation to support student research, study abroad and visiting lecturers. Their Honors College programs have directly supported the education of 560 students and impacted more than 5,000 students. Panda Cares, the company’s charitable arm, also supports Children’s Miracle Network and its member hospitals including MU Health Care’s Children’s Hospital.

To celebrate the grand opening of its first location at the University of Missouri, Panda Express donated $75,731 — 100% of the net proceeds from the location’s first week of sales — to Mizzou to benefit the Cherng Program in Honors.

Original story posted on Show Me Mizzou.