Panda Express is scheduled to open its first international location in Mexico on Saturday, marking the first step in the chain’s plan for overseas expansion.
The restaurant, which will be located in the Gran Terraza Lomas Verdes shopping mall in Mexico City. also is the first franchised location for Panda Express.
The Chinese fast-casual brand operates or licenses 1,400 units in the United States.
The Mexico City location will be operated by master franchisor Grupo Gigante. Officials from Rosemead, Calif.-based Panda Express say a second free-standing restaurant is scheduled to open in Mexico before the end of the year, and additional units are planned by Grupo Gigante, although details were not available at press time about the number and timing.
“In Mexico today, there is no clear leader in the Chinese fast-casual industry,” Bob Lustig, senior vice president of Panda Express International, said in a statement. “This expansion is an opportunity for Panda Express to launch this sector by bringing our orange chicken and other favorites to the Mexican consumer.”
Earlier this year, Panda Express officials said they are actively looking to franchise the brand internationally — including possibly in China, the native country of Andrew Cherng, chairman of the Panda Restaurant Group that owns Panda Express.
On Thursday, however, company spokeswoman Thien Ho said Panda officials have not determined where the brand will go next.