Panda Express opens Friday in Lafayette; customers have a chance to win food for a year

LAFAYETTE, Ind. — To celebrate Friday's grand opening of the new Panda Express location in Lafayette, the first eight people in line will win a year’s supply of Panda Express meals.

Anyone who wins the Panda Bowls for a Year prize will be eligible to receive two digital coupons a month for a free Panda Bowl for 12 months, according to the Panda Express website.

The Greater Lafayette Chamber will be hosting a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 10 a.m. with Panda Express store members at the new restaurant located at 3800 South Street.

For those who may not have been lucky enough to be one of the first eight customers at Lafayette’s newest location, the Panda Express team will also be giving away T-shirts to the first 88 guests.

Unlike other locations within the Greater Lafayette community, this new location will also have a drive-thru attached to the building. This is the second Panda Express location in the nation to debut the company’s new store design, called Panda Home.

Inspired by Chinese heritage and architecture, Panda Home will feature a storefront modeled after traditional Chinese architecture, with a sweeping roofline, a gate-inspired entrance, neon signs and a mural celebrating Chinese culture.

The first store that opened with the Panda Home store design was in Dripping Springs, Texas, on May 10.

“We’ve been very excited about it, because we know the area has been in need of a new location,” said Andrew Peterson, assistant manager of the new Panda Express location.

Panda Express's newest location in Lafayette, Ind. located at 3800 South Street, was built using the company's new “Panda Home” store design, on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2023.
Panda Express's newest location in Lafayette, Ind. located at 3800 South Street, was built using the company's new “Panda Home” store design, on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2023.

“We are hoping to break some records on Friday.”

To ensure that Friday’s opening goes smoothly, the Panda Express company flew out a specialized team of employers from Texas who have been trained to handle the workload of grand openings.

The new Panda Express location will offer all of Panda Express’s iconic dishes. Guests can also order Panda’s newest entrée — Chili Crisp Shrimp — which will be available for a limited time.

The new dish is made with lightly breaded succulent shrimp mixed with aromatic peppers and onions wok-tossed in a savory chili garlic sauce featuring a combination of spicy and crunchy in every bite.

“Our entire Panda team is grateful to serve the Lafayette community by providing new jobs and supporting local organizations through fundraising opportunities,” said Farah Salek, 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.”

Guests can also sign up for the new Panda Rewards program on the Panda Express mobile app or online at and receive a Welcome Gift for the grand opening and exclusive surprises all year long.

“As a family-owned and operated company committed to supporting the communities it serves, 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,” reads the press release.

The new location is still hiring, wages start at $15.50 per hour for all front-of-house hires, as well as $16.50 per hour for all new back-of-house hires.

At each Panda Express location, associates ring a bell each time a guest donates to the Panda Cares® in-store donation box. Panda Cares Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Panda Express, donates 100 percent of the funds collected to local nonprofit organizations that support the health and education needs of underserved youth.

Any organization registered as a nonprofit/501(c)(3)/tax-exempt organization can sign up for the Neighborhood Fundraisers, and Panda donates 20% of pre-tax event sales from in-person and online orders submitted through the Panda Express website or mobile app at the selected Panda location. Organizations can learn more about fundraising opportunities here.

Local store hours are Monday through Saturday 10:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. and 10:30-8:30 p.m. on Sunday. The drive-thru is open until 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 10:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and 9 p.m. on Sunday.

This article originally appeared on Lafayette Journal & Courier: Lafayette grand opening: Chance to win a year of Panda Express