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East Village Panda Express to offer ‘year’s supply’ of free meals to first 8 customers in line at grand opening fete

BY THE VILLAGE SUN | The lonnnggg-anticipated opening of Panda Express on E. 14th Street finally happened on Monday. And on Thurs., July 20, the chain will be feting the occasion with a grand opening celebration.

The corner storefront has been built-out and ready to go for more than a year, but the opening was delayed apparently by bureaucratic red tape.

Adding some extra flavor to Thursday’s celebratory event, the new East Village location, at the corner of First Avenue (237 First Ave.), will be giving away a free “year’s supply” of Panda Express meals to the first eight customers in line, plus “special gifts” to the first 88 people in line. (In Chinese culture, 8 is considered the luckiest number and the more 8’s the better.) And that’s “in line” not online — you have to physically be there.

A press release for the event hot from Panda H.Q. in Rosemead, California, boasts that the West Coast-based chain restaurant is “the largest Asian dining concept in the U.S.”

The growing company’s newest of its more than 2,400 locations will offer “all of Panda’s iconic dishes, including the world-famous The Original Orange Chicken®, award-winning Honey Walnut Shrimp and guest-favorite Broccoli Beef entrée.

“Our entire Panda team is grateful to serve the New York City community by providing new jobs and supporting local organizations through fundraising opportunities,” said Nikki Yang, Panda Express area coach of operations. “We hope to be a lasting part of the community and welcome all guests into our doors to try our American Chinese favorites and discover their own.”

Per the press release, Panda has “set out to create multiple employment opportunities for local residents, offering one of the highest starting wages in the restaurant industry and comprehensive benefits.”

Most Panda general managers earn $100,000 annually.

“Associates will grow professionally, personally, and financially at Panda, as the company provides a wide range of training programs, as well as professional and personal development courses through the University of Panda,” the release notes.

Apparently, New York University doesn’t have to worry about competition since U. Panda is only a portal — for now, at least.

Panda’s pay starts at $17.50 per hour for all front-of-house hires, and $19 per hour for new back-of-house hires. Persons interested in a career with Panda Express can visit

Also, at each Panda Express location, store workers ring a bell every time a guest donates to the Panda Cares® donation box. Panda Cares Foundation, the chain’s philanthropic arm, donates 100 percent of the funds collected to local nonprofit organizations that support the health and education needs of underserved youth.

Hours at the new E. 14th Street Panda Express are Monday through Saturday, 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.

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