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Panda Express tests new container

Panda Express is testing a new service container that will allow guests to have smaller portions of three entrees, rather than the traditional two-entrée combination plates.

The new “Paw Plates,” designed to resemble a panda paw, have three compartments for entrees and one section for a side dish, Panda Restaurant Group said Tuesday.

Made of polypropylene, the plates are also more environmentally friendly, company officials said. They are recyclable, microwaveable and dishwasher safe, and they have specifically designed lids that snap on for more secure take-out use.

Company officials said the goal is to shift to a one-plate system by eliminating the need for dine-in paper plates and Styrofoam boxes for to-go orders.

Panda Express chief marketing officer Glenn Lunde said the plates will let guests try more dishes, while still enjoying their favorites. In some markets, the test will include a nominal price increase for the three-entrée option.

“Asian meals are traditionally eaten family style, where each person can select from a variety of entrees,” Lunde said in a statement. “Panda’s new Paw Plate is meant to give our guests this experience by offering them more entrée choices while they still receive the same quantity of food.”

The Paw Plates will be tested in 56 restaurants starting this week in Bakersfield and Santa Barbara, Calif.; Yakima and Spokane, Wash.; Indianapolis; and Columbus, Ohio.

The company said it will also test the inclusion of two entrees in a Panda Bowl, which traditionally allowed guests to select only one dish. The price of the bowl will remain the same.

Panda Restaurant Group, based in Rosemead, Calif., operates the 1,500-unit Panda Express quick-service chain, as well as the Panda Inn concept and Hibachi-San.

Contact Lisa Jennings at [email protected].
Follow her on Twitter: @livetodineout

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