The new Ooltewah Panda Express on Old Lee Highway opened Wednesday. A similar unit is opening at Northgate Mall in Hixson in January. / Photo by Dave Flessner
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Workers are finishing work on a new Panda Express restaurant slated to open in Hixson in January. / Photo by Dave Flessner

Company at a glance

Owner: Panda Restaurant Group Inc.

Founded: 1983 by Andrew and Peggy Cherng

Headquarters: Rosemead, California

Locations: More than 2,000 across the country, including local units at UTC, East Brainerd, Ooltewah, UTC, Dalton, Georgia and, in January, in Hixson

Products: American Chinese cuisine

Staff size: More than 39,000

Annual revenues: $2 billion

Web site:


America's biggest Asian cuisine restaurant chain is doubling the number of units it operates in Hamilton County with a new restaurant opened last week in Ooltewah and another restaurant scheduled to open in January in Hixson.

Panda Express, a Rosemead, California-based chain of more than 2,000 Chinese restaurants, is opening nearly identical 2,200-square-foot restaurants this winter in two of Chattanooga's fastest growing suburbs for new eateries.

A new Panda Express opened last Wednesday on Old Lee Highway, just off of Little Debbie Parkway in Ooltewah. The new Ooltewah eatery is the latest among a dozen restaurants that have opened in Ooltewah and Collegedale over the past couple of years along Old Lee Highway, in Cambridge Square and in the Collegedale area.

"We're doing really well and seem to be well received here so far," Kyle Estes, an assistant manager for the new Panda Express in Ooltewah, said Monday.

Estes said the new restaurant will employ about 30 full- and part-time employees to staff the eatery, which is open from 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day.

In Hixson, Panda Express is preparing to open next month at Northgate Mall along Highway 153 on the site where the former Sears auto center was torn down last year. CBL Properties, which owns Northgate Mall, is redeveloping the Northgate Sears property and will open a new Panda Express and the first Aubrey's restaurant in Chattanooga next year.

The 7,500-square-foot Aubrey's next door to the new Panda Express in Hixson will offer pastas, fresh seafood, hamburgers and other Southern favorites, and will join First Watch and Texas Roadhouse among the new eateries that have opened since September along Highway 153 in Hixson.

The new Panda Express restaurants include drive-through windows to cater to their popular take-out menu and also include both interior and patio seating for eating at the restaurant.

Panda Express offers a variety of Chinese-cuisine-inspired dishes , including orange chicken, firecracker chicken breast, Beijing beef, grilled Teriyaki chicken and Kung Pao chicken. "Combo meals" are served with customer's choice of either fried rice, steamed rice, chow mein, or mixed vegetables.

Panda Express already operates stores in the Chattanooga region near UTC, on Gunbarrel Road in East Brainerd. Just to the south in Dalton, Georgia, Panda Express also operates a restaurant on Walnut Avenue just off Interstate 75.

Panda Express offers any one side and two entrees for $6.80 or one side and three entrees for $8.30. Bowls of rice or chow mein and mixed vegetable combinations are available for $5.80 with one entree. Kid's meals and "family feasts" are also available.

Contact Dave Flessner at or at 757-6340