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Don’t Worry, Panda Express Isn’t Tearing Down the Original Panda Inn

The 44-year-old restaurant will live on

Panda Inn, Pasadena
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Farley Elliott is the Senior Editor at Eater LA and the author of Los Angeles Street Food: A History From Tamaleros to Taco Trucks. He covers restaurants in every form, from breaking news to the culture, people, and history that surrounds LA's dining landscape.

After some weekend back-and-forth it seems that the sprawling Panda Express company will indeed save their original Panda Inn location on East Foothill Boulevard in Pasadena. Per an early report from LA Magazine, some major upcoming construction by a Panda-backed group could have potentially seen the first-ever Panda restaurant location demolished completely, but now that’s not the case.

Here’s the backstory: Panda Inn Pasadena has been standing since the mid 1970s, when it was opened by owners Andrew and Peggy Cherng. They would eventually go on to open a second Panda Inn in Glendale, followed thereafter by the first-ever true Panda Express inside the Glendale Galleria. From there the restaurant expanded massively, with 100 storefronts by the early 1990s, and to today’s number of nearly 2,000 global locations.

Through it all the original Panda Inn has not only remained standing, it has dutifully continued operating without fail (though there have been some attempts over the years to give the place a facelift). That looked set to change last week, says Pasadena Now, when city-filed plans were dropped online that show two big apartment buildings slated for the current Panda Inn site.

Reached for comment about the impending doom of the 44-year-old Panda Inn, reps say any notion that Panda was planning to actually tear down the restaurant is premature. They add:

While we are still in the early stages of this development, we are committed to having our family's original Panda Inn remain on this location to continue serving our valued guests for years to come. We do not have any intentions to demolish the original Panda Inn.

To that end, expect Panda Restaurant Group to remodel the restaurant without pulling the plug. They say that the existing building will remain, but they will be “elevating the overall experience” with some changes.

No word on when that all might start to happen, to with city-filed plans coming it should be soon. Thankfully there are some 1,800 global locations to visit in the meantime.